Tag Archives: Fantasy

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!

Spotlight – Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller


Today I am super excited to be part of the #Otherworld blog tour where I am sharing a thrilling extract and exciting giveaway!

Otherworld was released on the 31st October published by Rock The Boat and is set to me one addictive thrilling read!

So sit back and relax and enter the Otherworld……


“Full of high stakes, thrillers, and fantastic twists and turns, fans of Ready Player One are sure to love this addictive read.” ―BUZZFEED

Welcome to real life 2.0. Are you ready to play?

There are no screens. There are no controls. You don’t just see and hear it – you taste, smell, and touch it too. In this new reality there are no rules to follow, no laws to break. You can live your best life.
    It’s a game so addictive you’ll never want it to end. Until you realize that you’re the one being played.
    Step into Otherworld. Leave your body behind.

The frightening future that Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have imagined is not far away. Otherworld asks the question we’ll all soon be asking: if technology can deliver everything we want, how much are we willing to pay?

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


Otherworld – Extract

“Hey, crazy!” someone shouts. I recognize the voice. It belongs to a girl from school. “What the hell are you doing?”

“What does it look like?” I call out. “I’m getting a tan.”“Put some clothes on, you pervert!” shouts a second voice. “Nobody wants to see your hairy butt cheeks, Simon,” screams a third. I open my eyes a crack and see three girls from school hanging out of a car. One of them is already tapping away at her phone. Their friends will be arriving soon.

My butt cheeks aren’t quite as furry as they’ve been made out to be, and apparently lots of people would like to see them, because the traffic on my street goes nuts for the next thirty minutes.

I don’t pay any attention to the hoots and catcalls. Crossing ice fields and getting blown to smithereens for hours on end was exhausting. I got about five hours of sleep, but I’ll need more if I want to go back in tonight. I’m just drifting off when I hear a car pull into my drive. A few seconds later, someone’s thrown a jacket over me.

“Get up and get inside.” It’s my mother.

I open my eyes. She’s looming over my chaise, and she’s pissed as hell.

“The people across the street are threatening to phone the police,” she hisses.

“Hi, Mom,” I say with a yawn. “You look stunning this afternoon.”

She does. Her black hair is pulled into a fancy knot, and she’s wearing a silk dress in a very tasteful shade of pale blue. Her painted lips are pressed together beneath her perfect nose.

Now, Simon. Or you’re going to jail.”

I sigh and sit up, tying her jacket around my waist. “Aren’t you overreacting? I’m sure the neighbors will forget all about this unfortunate incident if you let them keep their vulgar roses.”

“Those people are not who you should be worried about,” she says. “My accountant just called to ask if the six-thousand-dollar charge on my AmEx for video game equipment was a business expense. You stole my credit card, Simon. One more word from you and I’m dialing your probation officer.”

This is unexpected. The accountant must be new. The old one didn’t ask questions.

I’m fully clothed and sitting on the living room couch when my father gets home. He’s dressed in Easter egg colors and there’s a nine iron in his hand. Apparently I’ve interrupted a golf game. He walks straight through the room without even acknowledging me. A few minutes later, he’s back, and he’s got my new headset, gloves and booties. He drops them all in a pile on the floor.

I wince when I hear a crack. “Come on, Dad,” I groan. “Do you know how hard it was to get all that stuff? Only a couple thousand of those headsets have even been made. That one’s going to be worth a fortune someday.”

“This heap of crap cost six thousand, three hundred and fifty- six dollars?” he asks.

Not exactly—I bought two sets of gear. I only kept one for myself. “It’s not crap,” I say. “It’s the newest virtual reality technology. I was on a wait list for that headset—”

“So it’s a video game,” my father says. If you didn’t know him, you wouldn’t think he was that angry. But I’ve spent eighteen years with Grant Eaton, and I know all the warning signs. He’s about to blow sky-high.

“It’s revolutionary—”

“It’s over.” He lifts his nine iron over his head and brings it down hard on the equipment. He repeats the same motion at least three dozen times, until his face is bright red and he’s out of breath.

I’m finding it pretty hard to breathe too. My last chance to spend time with Kat is just a pile of plastic shards.

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


About Jason Segel

Jason Segel is an actor, a writer, and an author. Segel wrote and starred in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and co-wrote Disney’s The Muppets, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. On television, Segel starred on How I Met Your Mother and Freaks and Geeks. He is the co-author of the New York Times bestselling series Nightmares!  Otherworld is his first novel for young adults.

About Kirsten Miller

Kirsten Miller is the author of the acclaimed Kiki Strike books, the New York Times bestseller The Eternal Ones, and How to Lead a Life of Crime. Otherworld is the fifth novel Kirsten has written with Jason Segel.  kirstenmillerbooks.com


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Rock The Boat I have 1 x copy of Otherworld to giveaway to 1 lucky winner!

You can enter via my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 17/11/2017

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Rock The Boat and Nina Douglas for having me on this fab blog tour!

Have you read Otherworld?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Riddles by Lari Don


I am super excited to have the wonderful Lari Don on Tales today to celebrate the release of the final thrilling instalment of thie spellbinding Spellchasers trilogy!

The first two Spellchasers books left thousands of captivated readers waiting to discover what happens to heroine Molly and friends. Now, their fate is revealed in Spellchasers: The Witches Guide To Magical Combat which was released on the 17th August 2017 published by Floris Books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And today I have the lady herself, Lari Don, with a faboulous guest post about riddles…..


Molly’s shape-shifting curse is getting stronger and more unpredictable. As they search for a stone that can curb the Promise Keeper’s powers, the team faces a blizzard of powerful threats. Can they bring balance to the magical world, defeat the creatures that pursue them and finally break Molly’s curse? Or will darkness triumph over friendship? Taking her inspiration from traditional folklore and legends, Lari Don has imagined the Speyside landscape of her childhood as a world of magic and adventure – complete with shapeshifters, witches and a variety of mythical creatures.


Riddles

I’ve always loved riddles.

I love words, but I also love maths. (I was the person who bounced out of maths exams saying ‘That was fun!’, thereby earning the eternal hatred of everyone in earshot…)

I love riddles because they use words, but they also have the logic and precision of mathematics. A riddle is like a maths problem dressed in a poem, leading beautifully and inexorably towards one and only one correct solution.

But if you don’t like maths or poetry, that’s fine. Because riddles also involve monsters and death!

In many of my favourite traditional tales, being able to answer a riddle (or sometimes ask a riddle) is the only way to save yourself from being eaten by a sphinx, or decapitated by an angry royal.

So, riddles can be fun to play with, but might also be a life-saving skill if you’re planning to star in any fairy tales or go on any quests…

I use riddles in almost all of my adventure books. The riddles in my first series, the Fabled Beast Chronicles, were asked by a variety of magical beings, including a ancient book, an Irish warrior, a mountainous dragon, and a committee of mermaids and selkies.

But in my most recent series, the Spellchasers trilogy, I wanted to get more personal with my riddles, not just have them as obstacles. So I included a sphinx in my team of young magical beings on a curse-lifting workshop, and I decided to curse him to lose his riddle. That gave me the chance to put riddles in the story, but also gave the riddling an extra emotional punch.

I create new riddles for the novels, partly because I enjoy making up riddles and partly because I weave the questions and the solutions into the fabric of the plot.

The answers to most of the riddles are connected, either directly or indirectly, to the wider narrative. But I also write the riddles with the character dynamics in mind, how they will discuss and debate and argue about the answer. Writing a riddle for a novel isn’t just about the problem and the solution, it’s also about the journey between the two.

I write all my riddles with my younger daughter. She is an incredible riddle master, with a very precise and sneaky mind. We start with the logic of the puzzle (it involves lots of lists and scribbling) then we craft the clues into a structure of a riddle – it doesn’t have to rhyme, but it’s nice if it has a bit of rhythm – and then we test the draft riddle on my older daughter, to see if she finds it too easy (cut out a clue), too hard (add another clue) or comes up with another answer entirely (in which case, we need to put in a line which makes that answer impossible… )

I also love to run riddle-writing workshops for young writers. (Though at the last workshop, the kids wanted to write a riddle about a spider, which was a difficult half hour for this arachnophobe…)  One of the greatest pleasures of sharing riddles with kids is that they are usually much better at solving them than adults!

So, now that I’ve written to the end of my sphinx’s adventure, the next problem to solve is: how can I weave riddles into my next adventure?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spellchasers trilogy is available and out now

You can grab your copies here or from your local bookshop


About Lari Don

Lari Don is a full-time children’s writer and storyteller. She grew up in the North East of Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh. She writes in her garden shed, helped by purring cats and hindered by lurking spiders. Lari has written more than 20 books, including adventure novels, picture books and retellings of traditional tales.

You can find out more about Lari on her website – www.laridon.co.uk

Or why not follow Lari on her twitter – @LariDonWriter


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Lari for a fab guest post and to Sarah at Floris Books for asking me to host.

Have you read any of the Spellchasers Trilogy?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  Do you love riddles?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Top Ten YA Books by Cara Thurlbourn


I am over the moon to be part of the Fire Lines by Cara Thurlbourn, a fab new YA Fantasy, blog tour today with a fab guest post from the lady herself!

Fire Lines was released on the 26th September published by Bewick Press and looks absolutely fab!

So for my stop on the blog tour Cara is sharing her top 10 YA Books…..



When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?

Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.

Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?


Top 10 YA Books

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

One of my most recent reads, recommended by my sister and devoured in a day. Totally unputdownable with a huge twist that I didn’t see coming (and I’m usually great at spotting twists!)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

I’m a sucker for an interesting narrator and The Book Thief certainly has that! I also love that against the very serious backdrop of The Second World War, Zusak celebrates books, words and freedom of expression.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

I was given a copy of this book as a gift when I was perhaps thirteen or fourteen and that infamous first line “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”, probably sums up all of my dreamy notions of being a writer.

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard 

Another relatively recent read of mine, I love the way Sara Barnard tackles the themes of friendship and mental health. It was also really refreshing to read something where the main focus was on the intricacies female friendship and not a romance.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Just adorable. Eleanor reminded me so much of me that it was almost painful at times. Probably my favourite read of the year.

Rebel of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

A fierce heroine and a blend of the wild west and fantasy, what’s not to love?! It also gives me severe cover envy with its sparkliness.

My Sister Lives On The Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher 

It’s quite a few years since I read this book but it still sticks with me as one of those ones that grabs you and doesn’t let go. I love the narrative and the way Annabel Pitcher cocoons her story in themes that are, sadly, very relevant today.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

I listened to this on audio on my commute to work and often had to delay getting out of the car because it was just too good! So atmospheric and full of mystery and intrigue.

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

I love everything about this book, from the story itself to the physicality of it. The cover is stunning, the artwork on the pages is to die for and I can’t wait to get started on her latest The Island at the End of Everything.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Still mid-read but I can tell this will be one of my stand out books of the year. Another recommendation/lend from my sister and she’s rarely wrong with her tastes!

You can buy a copy of Fire Lines here 

Or add to your Goodreads list here


About Cara Thurlbourn

Cara Thurlbourn writes children’s and young adult fiction. ‘Fire Lines’ is her first novel and it’s a story she’s been planning since she was fifteen years old.

Cara has a degree in English from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University.

She lives in a tiny village in Suffolk and has worked in academic and educational publishing for nearly ten years. Cara blogs about her author journey and in November 2016 she crowdfunded her first children’s book. 10% of its profits are donated to animal rehoming charities.

Cara plans to write at least two more books in the Fire Lines series, as well as a young adult mystery series, and has lots more children’s stories waiting in the wings.

You can sign up for Cara’s newsletter, for giveaways, updates and latest releases, here: www.firelines.co.uk

You can also follow Cara on twitter – @carathurlbourn


Blog Tour

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

 


A huge big thank you to Faye Rogers for asking me to host this fab piece and to Cara for writing it.

Have you read Fire Lines?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – A Day In The Life Of Ruth Lauren by Ruth Lauren


Today I am thrilled to be part of the brilliant Prisoner Of Ice And Snow Blog Tour!

Prisoner Of Ice And Snow by Ruth Lauren was released on the 7th September 2017 published by Bloomsbury and is a brilliant MG Fantasy that will keep you gripped page after page!

Today the lovely Ruth Lauren gives us a little insight into her day in this fab guest post….



Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.


A Day In The Life Of Ruth Lauren

Being an author isn’t the first job I’ve had, but it is by far my favourite. In what other job do you get requests to choose the font for a letter that one of your characters wrote to another character? Or to send along a little voice recording of word and name pronunciations for the audio book narrator? This never happened when I worked in an office, I can tell you. I might write a pitch for an idea, or talk with my agent about next steps, or get something exciting like a book cover or news on a foreign sale in my inbox.

But of course, most days I don’t get an email asking for these things. Most days my inbox is just asking me to rate that blind I ordered or make a dental appointment. And most of the time, after I’ve dropped my kids off at school (that I get to do this every day is another perk of the job), I go home to sit in front of my laptop. Sometimes it really is just sitting, because a lot of my time is spent either daydreaming—when an idea for a new book isn’t nailed down yet—or solving problems, plotting out the trajectory of stories, thinking up twists and how/when to reveal them.

Other times, when I’m drafting a book, I spend most of the day actually writing (and not on the internet at all. Not that.) That could be an outline or some more detailed notes on a specific chapter, but mostly I try to add 1k words a day to whatever story I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll have to set that aside if my editor send a book back to me and I need to do another round of edits, or line edits, or copy edits, or . . . you get the picture, editing is a big part of my life!

And if I’m lucky, some days after I’ve finished my writing work, I get a lovely review from a young person who read PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW and liked it, and then I don’t mind that my inbox told me to make a dental appointment.

You can buy a copy of Prisoner Of Ice And Snow here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads shelf here


About Ruth Lauren


Ruth Lauren lives in the West Midlands in England with her family and a lot of cats. She likes chocolate, walking in the woods, cheese, orchids, going to the movies, and reading as many books as she can. She’s been a teacher and worked in lots of different offices, but she likes writing best. Prisoner of Ice and Snow is her debut novel.

You can find out more about Lauren on her website – www.ruthlauren.com

Or why not follow Lauren on Twitter – @ruth__lauren

And Instagram here


Blog Tour

Why not catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge big thank you to Bloomsbury and Faye Rogers for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Prisoner Of Ice And Snow?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Magical Mystery Tour by Mark Huckerby


Today I have a fab guest post from one half of an awesome dynamic writing duo of a brilliant MG Fantasy series, Mark Huckerby.

Defender Of The Realm: Dark Age was released on the 1st June and is the second book in this brilliant series and I am SO excited to read it!  I was a huge fan of the first book in the series and it left me craving more!

Praise for Defender of the Realm

Defender of the Realm was longlisted for the 2017 Branford Boase Award, and shortlisted for The Brilliant Book Award Nottingham (February 2017) and  Stockton Children’s Book of the Year (March 2017).

Entertaining, gripping and full of action and plot twists”  – Sunday Express 
 
“A thrilling mashup of history and fantasy”  – Kirkus Reviews  
 
“Defender of the Realm is unashamedly fun!”  – Derek Landy, author of Skulduggery Pleasant

You can find my review of Defender Of The Realm here

Praise for Defender of the Realm: Dark Age

“Brilliant sequel to Defender of the Realm a fabulous fantasy for children and adults alike” –

Ravenmaster HM Tower of London @ravenmaster1

So sit back and relax and let Mark share his love of ruins….and some cute baby Mark pictures too……


After the great battle at King Alfie’s coronation, the nation thinks it’s seen the last of the Black Dragon, and Alfie gets busy learning what it means to fill his father’s shoes. But when a band of undead Vikings appears, Alfie, Hayley and the rest of the Yeoman Warders fear that Professor Lock is back to finish what he’s started. 
 
For the epic battle that’s brewing, Alfie will need to enlist help from abroad, as well as from a mysterious new friend who seems to be watching over him…


Magical Mystery Tour

I love a good ruin.

One of my earliest memories is of clambering all over the walls of the 900 year old Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire while my Granddad looked on. A little later, I used to plead with my father to take me to Bodiam Castle in Sussex every weekend; I was convinced that in some forgotten tower I would somehow find a sword that a medieval knight would just have, I don’t know, left lying around. Corfe Castle in Dorset was another favourite and yep, I really thought I might stumble upon a suit of armour tucked away behind the gatehouse as I explored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s become kind of a cliché to depict kids as groaning with boredom as they’re dragged off around castles, abbeys and stately homes by their parents but I honestly loved it. It simultaneously ignited a passion for history and fired up my imagination. Thinking about it, there’s a direct link from my childhood to the Defender of the Realm series that I’ve written alongside my writing partner, Nick Ostler. It’s allowed me to indulge in my twin loves of history and fantasy and combine them, just like I did when I was young.

When Nick and I write, we often talk about the formula of “something true + something new”. It spawned the central idea of the book:  “what if the kings and queens of Britain were secretly superheroes, sworn to protect Britain from monsters and super villains?” The ‘something true’ part of the formula is of course the real history of Britain and the ‘something new’, well, that’s where dragons and stinking zombie Vikings come in. So in the secret history of Defender of the Realm, the Great Fire of London in 1666 was of course started by a dragon and the Spanish Armada was sunk by a giant squid. Dur, as if you didn’t know.

We’ve also applied the formula to the locations in the book, giving iconic British landmarks an enchanted twist as they’re inducted into our fantasy universe. In the book, the Tower of London is of course the home to the Crown Jewels, well the fake ones for the tourists anyway. It’s below ground in “the Keep”, the Defender’s secret base, that the real magical goodies are kept and guarded by the loyal beefeaters. Buckingham Palace is still the home to the monarch, but we’ve added a magical supersonic state coach that runs through a secret tunnel all the way to the Tower of London and the underground base.  Edinburgh Castle is (really) built on the plug of an extinct volcano that of course isn’t so dormant in the fantasy world of the book.

In Defender of the Realm: Dark Age, the second in the series, we’ve had the pleasure of adding yet more locations as we build up our world. Undead Vikings are the slightly whiffy new villains and, are attracted back to the places their forebears raided a thousand years ago, looking for gold. Two cities with Viking history, York and Cambridge feature heavily. One of my favourite chapters takes place on Lindisfarne. Also known as Holy Island, it sits just off the coast of Northumberland and is the site of a lonely monastery and wind-swept castle. In the book, it’s home to a Roderick “Sultana” Raisin, a semi-retired beefeater, secretly charged with keeping a look out from Britain’s coast for supernatural threats. And let’s just say old Sultana is the first UK citizen for a thousand years to get up close and personal with a Viking…

And there’s a personal connection here, too. When I was little, I visited Lindisfarne abbey and castle with my grandparents. I clambered over the walls and probably hoped I’d stumble upon a knight’s rusty gauntlet or at the very least, a secret room leading to a magical world. And thirty years later, writing this book, I kind of got my wish.

Defender of the Realm: Dark Age by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler published by Scholastic is out now.

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

You can find my review of the first book in the series, Defender Of The Realm 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

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


A huge thank you to Lorraine at Scholastic for having me as part of this fab tour and to Mark for a brilliant guest post!

Have you read Defender Of The Realm: Dark Ages?  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!

Guest Post – My Top Five Inspirational Places Or Objects When Writing/Encouraging Creativity by Matilda Woods


I’m excited to be a part of the fab blog tour for a brilliant new MG Fantasy, The Boy,the Bird & the Coffin Maker which was released on the 4th May 2017 published by Scholastic.

#coffinmaker

“A stunning, literary and utterly original debut from author Matilda Woods”

Today Matilda tells us about her Inspirational Places Or Objects When Writing/Encouraging Creativity in this fab guest post……


Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora where fish fly out of the sea and everyone knows everybody’s business. There he makes coffins for the great and small, but being the only coffin maker in town can be lonely. That is until a little boy and a magical bird enter his life and change it forever. But can Alberto keep them safe from the town’s prying eyes and the arrival of a menacing stranger?


My Top Five Inspirational Places Or Objects When Writing/Encouraging Creativity

One of my favourite things about writing is that anyone can do it, no matter how much, or how little, money they possess. Here are five simple (and cheap!) things that help me to get words down on the page.

Pen and Paper (Cost = $5.00)

Words seem to come more freely when I write with pen and paper rather than on a computer. I don’t tend to use this form for an entire draft. Instead, I pull out the pen and paper when I’m really struggling to phrase a particular scene or chapter. All my favourite descriptions in THE BOY, THE BIRD AND THE COFFIN MAKER were first written with pen and paper.

Coffee, Tea and Tisanes (Cost = 10c a cup)

The first thing I do before sitting down to write in the morning is to get a cup of coffee. I’m usually really nervous when I start writing for the day – I’m scared that no words are going to come out – so having a cup of coffee distracts me and calms me down. In the afternoon I tend to switch over to green tea or berry tisanes. I always find that the sign of a great writing day is when I get so caught up in the words that my coffee or tea goes cold!

The Library (Cost = free!)

When I get stuck writing a story I like to leave it alone for a few days or weeks and read something else. I tend to steer clear of reading any stories that are in the same genre as the book I am currently writing. Otherwise, the author’s voice tends to creep into my own work. Instead, I will read something completely different, like a memoir or a Nordic crime novel. Seeing that other people have been able to finish their novel gives me the confidence to keep writing my own.

Candles (Cost = $2.00)

When I am writing a really important scene or one with a lot of imagery, I like to write at night by candlelight. There is something about the warm glow of the light that helps me forget my doubts and just write. A scene always seems to turn out a bit more magical when I have written by candlelight.

A walk (or run) with my dogs (Cost = free!)

From left to right: Hector (the slowest), Watson (the second fastest) and Luna (the fastest)

My all time favourite thing to do when I’m struggling to write is to take my dogs for a walk. I have three and they all walk at different paces. If I’m working on a particular scene I will walk my slowest. If I’m working on the plot I will walk the next quickest. And when I just want to clear my head and forget all about the story I will take my fastest for a run. Without my dogs I’m certain I would go insane!

The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker by Matilda Wood is published 4 May 2017 by Scholastic Children’s Books

You can buy a copy of The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker here or from your local bookshop!


About Matilda Woods

Matilda Woods lives in the Southern Tablelands of Australia, where there are no flying fish, but there is the world’s largest cement sheep. She currently lives with her four chickens, three dogs, two cats and one bird.

You can find out more about Matilda on her website – www.matildawoods.com

You can follow Matilda on twitter – @MatildaWrites


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Matilda for such a fab guest post and to Lorraine at Scholastic for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  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!

Guest Post – Five Books To Inspire Children’s Imaginations By Cathryn Constable


I’m super happy to have a brilliant guest post from the wonderful Cathryn Constable today!

Cathryn is the author of the brilliant The Wolf Princess, one of the bestselling debuts of 2012. It swept the board with gorgeous reviews and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Specsavers National Book Awards.

Cathryn’s second book The White Tower was released on the 5th January 2017 published by Chicken House and is a wonderful middle grade read.

Alchemy meets dreamy reality in this new atmospheric adventure!

Today Cathryn talks about books to inspire children’s imaginations…..


When Livy’s accepted at Temple College, a school for the very brightest, no one is more surprised than her, though she has always felt different. Recently, Livy’s been drawn to the roof, where, among its towering stone angels, she has the strangest desire to fly. But her behaviour is noticed by others, for whom the ability to defy gravity is a possible reality … one that they’ll stop at nothing to use for their own ends.


Five Books To Inspire Children’s Imaginations

Everyone likes to bang on about how reading books (as opposed to text books or just texts) is soooo important for children but they can’t always say why. … My sense is that children who have consumed certain sorts of imaginative books have an adult life that is less grey and featureless and much more subversive as a child who has been allowed to create an intensely personal internal landscape hits adulthood with a sense of possibility and ‘what if?’ They’ve learned how to imagine things differently from how they are currently arranged or presented. There’s a very good reason why totalitarian regimes burn books.

Five books or even writers can’t be enough, though, to build a vivid internal landscape. E. Nesbit should be on any list along with Alan Garner. I would also add Catherine Fisher and Susan Cooper. My son adored Walter Moers… Really, the list is endless… But for those short on time, here are five of the best.

The If Game by Catherine Storr

Of course, I read Marianne Dreams as a child but did not discover this, or the equally unsettling The Mirror Image Ghost until I read them to my children. Storr is such an excellent writer, taking something so small and insignificant as a boy finding some keys which open secret doors into a world he doesn’t recognize but which forces him to confront the truth about his family.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

I can still remember opening this book and reading that first sentence aloud to my son. ‘It was a dark, blustery afternoon in Spring and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.’ I had a sensation akin to vertigo because it was so surprising and so good. And the book just got better.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The only American writer to make the list. This is the sort of book that stays with you; a lucid exploration of time and death and the consequences of immortality.

The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater

Batty but anarchic. Dora and Dorinda behave very badly indeed but it’s all very funny.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Totally thrilling, unputdownable and frankly very frightening. Part one of His Dark Materials trilogy, these books chart a child’s necessary and compelling journey from innocence to experience.

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


After reading Theology at Cambridge University, Cathryn Constable went on to work in magazine journalism, writing for Vogue, W, Elle, The Independent, Tatler and The Sunday Times, before realising her dream of writing stories for children. Cathryn is married with three children and lives in London.

You can find out more about Cathryn on her website – www.cathrynconstable.net

Or why not follow Cathryn on twitter – @kateconstable7 


A huge thank you to Cathryn for such a fab post and to Chicken House and Maura for organising!

Have you read The White Tower?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Guest Post – Japanese Fantasy By Dan Walker


Love Pirates of the Caribbean? Then prepared to be swept away by this new swashbuckling adventure series.

Sky Thieves by Dan Walker is released today on the 6th April published by OUP and set to be full of swashbuckling adventure with book two being released later this year.

I’m over the moon to have the author himself on Tales today!

This book looks all the awesome!  Check out this fab book trailer below….

Today Dan chats about inspiration and Japenese Fantasy that inspired Sky Thieves in this fab guest post…


Love Pirates of the Caribbean? Then prepared to be swept away by this new swashbuckling adventure series.

Talented debut author, Dan Walker, creates an imaginative world where thieves sail the skies in flying galleons-an action-packed adventure of epic scale.

Zoya DeLarose has no idea her life is about to change forever when a band of sky thieves ‘steal’ her away from her orphanage, landing up in the clouds, on board The Dragonfly’s deck. There, Zoya discovers a world of meteorite storms, sword fights, midnight raids, floating islands, and long lost treasure. But with a deadly enemy closing in, will Zoya find the strength to face her fears and unlock the key to her destiny, or will she fall from the skies with no one left to break her fall?


Japanese Fantasy

One question asked of every writer at some point is where we get our ideas. There are a few ways, I think. Sometimes, stories pop up like toast from a toaster. The idea for The Hobbit came to J.R.R. Tolkien when he was grading exam papers and came across a blank sheet. Tolkien wrote down the first words that came to his head, (“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,”) and an entire world was born. Sometimes, stories come in dreams. At 16, C.S. Lewis dreamed of a half-man, half-goat creature scurrying through a snow-dusted forest carrying an umbrella and some parcels. Sometimes, stories are based on real-life. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was a childhood friend in all but name.

I got the idea for my first book, Sky Thieves, whilst sitting at my writing desk on a summer’s day, gazing up at the blue sky and wondering to myself ‘what would it be like if there were giant airships flying around?’

But the thing is, this is only half true.

In reality, the genesis for this story came decades earlier, back when I was running around in Bermuda shorts, taking books off my local library shelf, devouring them and going back for more. The genesis came later too, I suppose, when I’d go to the bookshelf in my cousin’s room and steal enough of his science-fiction books to last me the few weeks until I’d see him again. It came from all the films I watched, and the plays and pantomimes I saw, and the video games I played.

For me, computer games have always been a huge influence. Specifically, Japanese games. I can pinpoint the exact date of the start of this love affair. It was early 1998 and I’d hit that age where when my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said ‘money!’ Because of this, I had £40 to spend on a game for the Sony Playstation system I’d bought the year before. The big game of the time was Tomb Raider, the second of which had been released a few months before. Tomb Raider was made by Core Design, a company based in my hometown. Naturally, I planned to buy this. But a chance conversation with a friend at school opened my eyes to another game, one that has come to mean an enormous amount to an enormous number of people since. Final Fantasy VII. My friend’s passion for the game was so intense, particularly with regards to its story, that he won me over. I took my £40, marched to the nearest Woolworths and bought my copy.

This remains one of the best decision I’ve ever made, in that it revealed to me an entire avenue of storytelling I’d likely have missed had I not made the purchase. For those uninitiated, Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing-game, or an RPG, in which the player takes on the role of a character. Specifically, FFVII is a Japanese RPG. JRPGs normally take place in fantasy worlds. But these are not the fantasy worlds of the west – the elves and the dwarves, the trolls and the faeries. These are Japanese fantasy worlds, with exotic environments, strange mechanical weapons, huge mechanoid creatures and airships prowling the skies. The characters in JRPGs are normally young and naïve, tasked with saving the world without the skills to do so. Over the course of the story, they must develop these skills, and obtain the magic boon needed to face the final challenge.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because it probably is. Indeed, with their young characters and richly-drawn fantasy worlds, JRPGs resemble modern kids stories. Phillip Pullman with his His Dark Materials trilogy springs to mind. But JRPGs have also influenced adult storytelling – with movies like the modern Star Wars films, Pacific Rim, Avatar and the Marvel movies all taking cues from Japan.

Of course, Japanese fantasy stories stretch beyond the confines of video games. Japan has its own fairy tales, its manga books and its colourful anime. It even has its own Disney in the shape of the academy-award-winning Studio Ghibli. I would encourage everyone reading this to explore the Japanese realm of fantasy storytelling.

You never know, in twenty years’ time you might find yourself staring up at the sky, dreaming of those stories you read two decades before, when an idea for a book pops into your head, and a new writer is born.

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


About Dan Walker

Dan lives smack-bang in the centre of the UK, just outside of a city called Nottingham, with his lovely, patient and supportive wife Dominika.

​Dan spent his childhood being dragged up and down the hills of the Peak District, frantically hammering away at computer games and raiding his cousin’s bookshelf for anything with a colourful cover. He later tricked the University of Derby into allowing him admission, before graduating with a degree in English. Since then, he has worked with a procession of wonderful people in bookshops, libraries and schools. He currently helps to run a specialist Autism centre.

​On the rare occasion you find Dan away from the computer, he can normally be found trying to tease a melodious sound out of his guitar, re-reading his favourite books for the eighty-eighth time or fighting off everyone nearby for the last blueberry in the pack.

You can follow Dan on twitter – @sky_thieves


A huge thank you to Dan for such an awesome post and to Hannah at OUP for organising and asking me to host!

Have you read Sky Thieves?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab copies?  Do you like fantasy computer games?   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!

Guest Post – Sweet Elixir by Laura Lam


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this amazing book, Masquerade by Laura Lam!

Masquerade is the third and final novel in Laura Lam’s Micah Grey trilogy, following Pantomime and Shadowplay, and was published on the 9th March 2017.


 

 

 

 

 

 

I am super excited to have Laura on the blog today.  Each chapter of Masquerade contains an italicised header which relates to the book in some way. Laura dedicated a lot of time to researching and selecting each excerpt and I’m so honoured to be sharing one of them today, with a bit of explanation from Laura on what each means, where it’s from, etc.

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more . . .

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight – but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

Old magics are waking. But will the world survive their return?

Micah Grey almost died when he fled the circus with Drystan – now he and the ex-clown seek to outrun disaster. Drystan persuades his old friend Jasper Maske, a once-renowned magician, to take them in. But when he agrees to teach them his trade, Maske is challenged to the ultimate high-stakes duel by his embittered arch-nemesis.

Micah must perfect his skills of illusion, while navigating a tender new love. An investigator is also hunting the person he once seemed to be – a noble family’s runaway daughter. As the duel draws near, Micah increasingly suffers from visions showing him real magic and future terrors. Events that broke the ancient world are being replayed. But can Micah’s latent powers influence this deadly pattern?

The gifted hide their talents, but dare they step into the light?

Micah’s Chimaera powers are growing, until his dark visions overwhelm him. Drystan is forced to take him to Dr Pozzi, to save his life. But can they really trust the doctor, especially when a close friend is revealed to be his spy?

Meanwhile, violent unrest is sweeping the country, as anti-royalist factions fight to be heard. Then three chimaera are attacked, after revealing their existence with the monarchy’s blessing – and the struggle becomes personal. A small sect decimated the chimaera in ancient times and nearly destroyed the world. Now they’ve re-emerged to spread terror once more. Micah will discover a royal secret, which draws him into the heart of the conflict. And he and his friends must risk everything to finally bring peace to their land.

You can buy these books here

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


Sweet Elixir

The thing about addiction is that I know it’s what will kill me. It won’t be a carriage in the road, or a common flu, or even the slow creep of cancer. It’s almost certain that Lerium will be what ends me. And there’s a strange, awful sort of comfort in that.

From the anonymous memoir of a Lerium addict, discovered and published post-mortem

Every chapter in the Micah Grey series has a short found document at the start, ranging from a variety of sources: history books, diaries, songs, poetry, and more. It’s basically a sneaky way to add in more worldbuilding and detail about Ellada & the Archipelago.

Addiction is a reoccurring theme in Masquerade.If anyone has read my tie-in Vestigial Tale “The Card Sharp,” it picks up on a lot of threads that are introduced in that novella. Lerium is the fictional drug within Ellada, which has clear parallels to opium in the 19th century. It was only used in very special religious ceremonies in one of the former colonies, Byssia, but Elladans took it and used it commercially because of colonialism. The colonies have long seceded from Ellada, reclaiming their independence, but the damage has been done. There’s another drug that’s sort of a continuation of Lerium as well, and it complicates a lot of character interactions within the final book. A little vague, but difficult to talk about the third book in a trilogy!

You can buy Masquerade or any of the Micah Grey Series here

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


About Laura Lam

Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

You can find out more about Laura on her website – www.lauralam.co.uk

Or why not follow Laura on twitter – @LR_Lam


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Laura for such a brilliant guest post and a fascinating insight into the trilogy!  And to Alice at Pan Macmillan for organising and sending me a copy of this fab book!

Have you read any of the Micah Grey Series?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  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!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...