Tag Archives: UKMG

Guest Post – My Writing Process – First Draft to Final Copy by Ally Kennen


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

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

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


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

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

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


My Writing Process – First Draft To Final Copy

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

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

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

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

Not now though!

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

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

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

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

I get that awful thing, Feedback.

This is always useful. No matter how horrific.

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

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

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

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

It’s a pretty good feeling.

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

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Ally Kennen

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

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

Or why not follow her on twitter – @allykennen


Blog Tour

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

Monday 13th February

Fiction Fascination

Bookish Outsider

Tuesday 14th February

Girl Vs Books

Book Lover Jo

Wednesday 15th February

Live Otherwise

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Thursday 16th February

MG Strikes Back

Alejandra’s Life

Friday 17th February

Library Girl and Book Boy

Luna’s Little Library

Saturday 18th February

Big Book Little Book

Mum Friendly

Sunday 19th February

Tales of Yesterday

Powered by Reading


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

Have you read The Everything Machine?  What did you think?  What does your writing process look like?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Tales Quiz – Which Character From Who Let The Gods Out by Maz Evans Are You?


Who Let The Gods Out is currently sitting very high on my February TBR and from what I have heard already I’m in for a huge treat!  Maz Evans is super funny and I’m sure that her debut is going to make me smile from ear to ear.

Who Let The Gods Out? was released on the 2nd February 2017 published by the awesome Chicken House and is set to be a runaway success!

And it’s our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month!

You can find out why people are loving Who Let The Gods Out here

So I teamed up with the wonderful Maz Evans and today we are asking….

Which Character From Who Let The Gods Out Are You?

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Also do check out an awesome giveaway on twitter!


Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

You can buy a copy of Who Let The Gods Out here or from you local bookshop


Which character from Who Let The Gods Out are you most like? 

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

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


About Maz Evans

Maz’s writing career began in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer. She has written for many national titles and is a regular pundit on The Jeremy Vine Show. After working as a creative writing lecturer, she founded Story Stew, an anarchic creative writing programme that has visited primary schools and literary festivals around the UK, including Hay and Imagine. Maz lives in London with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Maz on her website – www.maz.world

Or why not follow her on twitter – @MaryAliceEvans


Giveaway

With thanks to Chicken House I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win 1 of 5 copies of Who Let The Gods Out here!


A huge thank you to Maz for playing along and helping to create this quiz!  And to Nina Douglas and Jazz at Chicken House for organising and the fab giveaway!

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

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – Debut Of The Month – Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans


I am so excited to have announced on February 1st that the super awesome Maz Evans is our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month for February 17 with her debut Who Let The Gods Out?!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

Who Let The Gods Out? was released on the 2nd Febraury 2017 published by the awesome Chicken House and is set to be a runaway success!

Who Let The Gods Out is currently sitting very high on my February TBR and from what I have heard already I’m in for a huge treat!  Maz Evans is super funny and I’m sure that her debut is going to make me smile from ear to ear.

I’m super excited to be shining the spotlight on Maz and Who Let The Gods Out today along with some love for Who Let The Gods Out from some lovely people.

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Look out for a special Who Let The Gods Out post from Maz this February…..and there may even be a giveaway!


About Maz Evans

Maz’s writing career began in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer. She has written for many national titles and is a regular pundit on The Jeremy Vine Show. After working as a creative writing lecturer, she founded Story Stew, an anarchic creative writing programme that has visited primary schools and literary festivals around the UK, including Hay and Imagine. Maz lives in London with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Maz on her website – www.maz.world

Or why not follow her on twitter – @MaryAliceEvans


About Who Let The Gods Out?

Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

You can buy a copy of Who Let The Gods Out here or from you local bookshop


Praise for Who Let The Gods Out?

I managed to catch some quotes from some lovely people about Who Let The Gods Out….


A huge thank you to the lovely Who Let The Gods out fan’s that provided me with quotes for this post.  Who Let The Gods Out comes highly recommend as our Debut Of The Month!

Look out for a special Who Let The Gods Out post from Maz this February…..and there may even be a giveaway!

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Interview With The Pet Defenders by Gareth P Jones


It’s no secret that my son and I are HUGE fans of Gareth’s books.  We always read them with a huge smile on our faces and Gareth’s new series, Pet Defenders does just that!

I am over the moon to have been asked by the lovely people at Stripes Publishing / Little Tiger Press to be part of the blog tour for this super funny book which is released on the 9th February 2017.

Illustrated by the super talented brilliant Steve May, Pet Defenders of the Earth follows Mitzy and Biskit and it is their job to save the world from alien invasions – just so long as they can stop fighting like cat and dog for long enough to do it! Beth at Stripes Publishing describes it as The Secret Life of Pets meets The X Files!

Biskit works alone. So when the unruly Pet Defenders dog agent is teamed up with Mitzy – a rookie and, even worse, a cat – he’s not happy. Can Biskit put his ego aside and work with Mitzy to save the world from an alien attack of terrifying proportions? When the humunga-dunga beetle rolls into town, the dynamic duo are going to need all their skills to stop the creature from laying waste to the world as they know it…

So for todays guest post I have come across a transcript of an interview conducted in February 2017 in an unknown location…..


The Pet Defenders Code: 1. The safety of Planet Earth depends on you. 2. Humans MUST NOT know the truth. GOOD LUCK – you’ll need it…

From Gareth P. Jones, winner of the Blue Peter Award and author of successful young series fiction, including NINA MEERKATS, comes a brand-new comic caper. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS meets THE X FILES – Pet Defenders are secret agents with a difference.

It’s up to Mitzy and Biskit to save the world from alien invasions – just so long as they can stop fighting like cat and dog for long enough to do it!

Secret agent Biskit is not happy when he discovers his new partner Mitzy is a cat – everyone knows that cats and dogs don’t mix. But saving the earth from alien invasions must come first and the planet is under attack! A cluster of cow pats has flown into town and they’re whipping up a stink… It’s time for Biskit and Mitzy to put aside their differences and kick some alien butt!

For fans of funny and action-packed animal adventures including Andrew Cope’s Spy Dog series, Astrosaurs and Jeremy Strong.


Interview with the Pet Defenders

Transcript of Interview conducted February 2017

Location unknown

To celebrate the publication of Pet Defenders: Attack of the Alien Dung, (Stripes) award-winning author Gareth P Jones secured an exclusive interview with the book’s protagonists (a dog called Biskit, and a cat called Mitzy). For security reasons, Gareth was blindfolded then brought to a secret location. As the blindfold was removed he observed he was in some kind of windowless room. A single bulb hung from the ceiling. In front of him stood a scruffy brown mongrel and a tabby cat with white paws and a white smudge on her nose. Looking up he noticed a seagull perched above his head.

GPJ:                 Oh, hello. Biskit and Mitzy, isn’t it?

Biskit:              How do you know that? How does he know that?

Mitzy:              I’ve no idea but it’s not good. We should get the bird to drop the Forget-Me-Plop and wipe his memory now.

GPJ:                 What? No…. Hey, I can understand what you’re saying. How is that possible?

Mitzy:              The room is coated with Universal Translation Paint. It is translating Biskit’s barks and my meows into a language you understand. It’s one of Example’s inventions.

GPJ:                 You mean Example One, the super intelligent lab mouse who heads up the Nothington Extra-terrestrial Research Division team, NERD for short?

Biskit:             How do you know all this? No one is supposed to know any of this.

GPJ:                 Yes but I’m your author.

Biskit:              What are you talking about?

GPJ:                 I created the series. I came up with the idea of a secret organization of pets keeping the planet safe from alien attack while us humans are totally oblivious. It’s fun, right?

Mitzy:              Fun? You think our job sounds fun?

GPJ:                 Well, yes, look… this isn’t going as I planned. I wanted to do a light-hearted interview for Chelle’s book blog, Tales of Yesterday.

Biskit:              Who’s Chelle? What is she doing with lots of tails?

Mitzy:              We should probably wipe her memory too? I’ll send a seagull.

GPJ:                 No, please don’t wipe her memory. She’s a blogger.

Mitzy:              What’s a blogger?

Biskit:              Probably some kind of alien from the planet Blog, come to Earth to enslave humans.

GPJ:                 What? No. That’s not it. It means she writes stuff on her website… Look, it doesn’t matter. Can’t we just do this normally? I’ll ask you questions and you answer them.

Biskit:              Sorry mate. We ask the questions.

Mitzy:              Hm, maybe we should let him, Biskit. That way we can find out how much he knows.

 Biskit:              That makes sense. Go ahead, ask your questions Mr Author man.

GPJ:                 Oh. Thanks. Any chance you can untie me?

Biskit growls

GPJ:                 No? Fair enough. So Pet Defenders, what’s the scariest alien you’ve ever fought?

Mitzy:              Sorry. That’s classified.

GPJ:                 OK. Then how many aliens have you encountered?

Mitzy:              Yeah, that’s classified too.

GPJ:                 Er…. What’s your favourite colour?

Mitzy:              We can’t tell you that.

GPJ:                 This is ridiculous. You haven’t told me a single thing and I created you. You should show me more respect.

Biskit:              Respect? Why should we respect you?

GPJ:                 Because, um, er… Oh, I’ve got it. Because I haven’t written the fourth book yet. I could make your lives pretty uncomfortable.

Mitzy:              You could if you were able to remember any of this.

Biskit:              Yeah, see you round Mr Author.

GPJ:                 No. Wait! Please….

SPLAT!

Transcript ends.

Pet Defenders: Attack of the Alien Dung is published 9th of February. The second book in the series, Beards from Outer Space comes out in May, with the third (Escape from Planet Bogey) being published in September.

Gareth P Jones has no memory of the above conversation.

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

About Gareth P Jones

Gareth P. Jones is the author of many books for children, including the NINJA MEERKATS series, and THE CONSIDINE CURSE, for which he won the Blue Peter Book of the Year 2012 award. He also works as a producer of TV documentaries. He lives in Forest Hill, south east London, with his wife and children.

To find out more about Gareth visit his website – www.garethwrites.co.uk

Or why not follow Gareth on twitter – @jonesgarethp

About Steve May

Steve May is an illustrator and animator based in north London. He was born in sunny Hastings and has an MA in Animation from the Royal College of Art. As an illustrator he has produced work for a variety of clients including Puffin and Faber.

To find out more about Steve May visit –  www.stevemay.biz


A huge thank you to Gareth for such a fab guest post and to Beth at Stripes Publishing for asking me to take part and for organising.

You can find some previous posts with Gareth P Jones on Tales using the following links –

Q&A with Gareth P Jones

Which Character From The Thornthwaite Betrayal Are You?

Adventures Of The Steampunk Pirates:  The Leaky Battery Sets Sail

Pet Defenders:  Attack Of The Alien Dung! Cover Reveal

Have you read Pet Defenders:  Attack Of The Alien Dung!?  Are you intrigued? Have you read any of Gareth’s other books?  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

Spotlight – Author Of The Month – Abi Elphinstone


I am so excited to have announced yesterday that the brilliant Abi Elphinstone is our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Author Of The Month for February 17!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

I am a huge HUGE fan of Abi and her books full of fun filled adventure.  With a trilogy not to be missed that all started with The Dreamsnatcher and a brilliant short story collection Abi is a brilliant UK Middle Grade talent and I am so excited to shine the spotlight on her and her wonderful books as Author Of The Month!

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

Look out for a super guest post from Abi this February also with a fab giveaway!


About Abi Elphinstone

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

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

Twitter: @moontrug

Instagram: @moontrugger

www.abielphinstone.com


The Books and Why We Love Abi Elphinstone

Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life.

Because Moll is more important than she knows… The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure.

Perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling, Michelle Harrison and Eva Ibbotson.

You can find my review of The Dreamsnatcher here

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

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

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

A beautiful and classic anthology of frosty, magical short stories from acclaimed children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Berlie Doherty, Lauren St John and Katherine Woodfine, and edited by author Abi Elphinstone.

Dreamsnatcher’s Abi Elphinstone heads up this gorgeous collection of wintery stories, featuring snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers . . . from classic children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Geraldine McCaughrean, Jamila Gavin, Berlie Doherty, Katherine Woodfine, Piers Torday, Lauren St John, Amy Alward, Michelle Harrison and Emma Carroll.

An unmissable, enchanting treat of a collection that will be enjoyed for years to come, by readers of all ages.

You can buy any of Abi Elphinston’s books here or from your local book shop!


A huge thank you to the lovely Abi Elphinstone fan’s that provided me with quotes for this post.  I highly recommend all of these books from our February Author Of The Month!

Look out for a super guest post from Abi this February also with a fab giveaway!

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

Are you an Abi Elphinstone Fan?  Do you have a favourite book?  Are you new to Abi Elphinstone?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Why Science? by Ross Welford


I am so excited to have the brilliant Ross Welford on Tales today with an absolutely brilliant guest post!

Ross is the author of the amazing Time Travelling With A Hamster that was released in 2016 and was a Waterstones Children’s book of the month.  Whilst I’ve not had a chance to read this one yet my son absolutely adored this book!

What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible was released on the 29th December 2016 published by Harper Collins and is set to be another fab read!

I’m THAT excited that both books are part of the British Books Challenge January Prize pack with thanks to Harper Collins Children’s.

For today’s guest post I got to ask Ross exactly why he includes science in his books…..


From the author of the unforgettable bestseller TIME TRAVELLING WITH A HAMSTER comes another surprising, beautiful and funny novel about a child who, by disappearing, will write herself into your heart forever…

Turning invisible at will: it’s one way of curing your acne. But far more drastic than 13 year-old Ethel Leatherhead intended when she tried a combination of untested medicines and a sunbed.

It’s fun at first, being invisible. And aided by her friend Boydy, she manages to keep her extraordinary ability secret. Or does she…?

When one day the invisibility fails to wear off, Ethel is thrown into a nightmare of lies and deception as she struggles to keep herself safe, to find the remedy that will make her seen again – and solve the mystery of her own birth…


Why Science?

It startled me when I first saw Time Travelling With A Hamster referred to as “science fiction”.  It really had not occurred to me.

I mean, I’m not even much of a Sci-fi fan! Epic space battles involving alien overlords from planets with X’s and Z’s in their name just don’t do it for me.

Nor am I much of a scientist, having dropped physics at school age 14.  So the physics of relativity in Hamster was as much a discovery for me as it is for the reader.  The challenge for Middle Grade, I find, is to keep it simple enough so as not to hold up the story.

So when it came to describing the nature of light in What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible I was obliged to go simpler still.  These days there is a kind of broad agreement among scientists about what light is, but the details are still subject to fierce argument.  It’s all so complicated that I soon abandoned any idea of delving any further into it than necessary!

That said, I believe invisibility as a real-world concept is far closer to being realised than moving backwards and forwards in time.

In case you are wondering, my next book doesn’t really involve much science at all.  Maybe I’ll end up being a writer who sometimes does science fiction rather than a “science fiction writer.”

You can buy a copy of What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible here or from your local bookshop


About Ross Welford

Ross Welford was a magazine journalist and television producer in the UK before becoming an author.

He lives in London with his young family, a border collie, a hamster, and several tropical fish.

Time Travelling With A Hamster is his first book.

A second book, What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible will be published in the UK in early 2017

You can find out more about Ross on his blog – www.dadfood.wordpress.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @rosswelford


A huge huge thank you to Ross for such a superb guest post.  Also a huge thank you to Jess at Harper Collins for sorting out this post and being super wonderful and supportive with the British Books Challenge too!

Have you read Time Travelling With A Hamster or What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible?  What did you think?  Do you like science in books?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – Baker Street Academy: Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond by Sam Hearn


I’m super happy to be spotlight this fab book as part of the awesome blog tour with thanks to Faye Rogers and Scholastic.

Baker Street Academy:  Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond was released in hardback on the 6th October 2016 and is a brilliant MG Detective Graphic Novel for any budding detective.

You can find out more about the book on Tales today as well as a fab giveaway!


John Watson has barely settled into his new school, Baker Street Academy, when his teacher announces a trip to one of London’s top museums, home to the world’s most famous jewel. But it’s been stolen! When police catch the thief it seems the case is closed. Can Sherlock Holmes uncover the mystery behind this extraordinary gem?

You can buy a copy of the book here or from your local bookshop.

You can also add it to your Goodreads here


About Sam Hearn


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic and Faye Rogers I have 3 copies of this wonderful book to giveaway to 3 lucky winners!

UK Only

Ends 05/02/2017

Please do check the terms and conditions on the rafflecopter giveaway before entering

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to the wonderful Faye for having me as part of the blog tour and to Scholastic and Faye for a fab giveaway!

Have you read Baker Street Academy:  Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond?  What did you think?  Do you think you could crack the mystery?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Diaries, Writing and Detectives! by Julia Lee


I’m super excited to have the wonderful Julia Lee on Tales today to celebrate the release of the second Nancy Parker mystery, Nancy Parkers Spooky Speculations.

Nancy Parkers Spooky Speculations was released on the 5th January 2017 published by OUP and is set to be another cracking mystery!

A funny and energetic middle-grade mystery, narrated part in the third person and part through Nancy’s illustrated journal. Follow-up to Nancy Parker’s Diary of Detection.

So today in a fab guest post Julia talks all about diaries, writing and detectives…..

And if you use those detective skills there may also be a giveaway at the bottom of this post!


About The Books

On this day 24th June 1920 I turned fourteen.

I plan to have a very exciting future now that I have thrown off the SHACKLES of SCHOOL! A detective is what I would most like to be. I cannot think of any reason why I could not be one. Except perhaps I am too young. And I don’t like blood.

Nancy Parker has recently been engaged in her first position – as a housemaid for the very modern Mrs Bryce. It’s not Nancy’s dream job (she’d rather be investigating crimes like they do in her beloved six-penny thrillers) but as Mrs Bryce starts to entertain her new neighbours with lavish parties, it becomes clear that something strange and interesting might be afoot. Local burglaries, a cook with a deep, dark secret – and Mrs Bryce’s own glamorous but murky past.

Will Nancy solve the mysteries while still keeping on top of her chores?

A hilarious and energetic middle-grade mystery, narrated part in the third person and part through Nancy’s journal.

Maidservants, Mystery, and Murder! Everyone’s favourite housemaid-detective is back! Now Nancy has a new job working at Oxcoombe Grange. It’s great except for one thing – Nancy is convinced the house is haunted! Ella Otter, now a reluctant pupil at nearby Seabourne Grammar School for Girls, demands a scientific investigation. Together, Nancy and Ella set out to do some spooky snooping, and to uncover the mysteries of the Grange’s cellars. But in doing so they make a few enemies, discover a few surprising secrets, and put themselves into a little more danger than they were bargaining for . . .

A funny and energetic middle-grade mystery, narrated part in the third person and part through Nancy’s illustrated journal. Perfect for fans of Murder Most Unladylike and The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow.

You can buy these books here or from your local bookshop


Diaries, Writing and Detectives! 

11th January. Got up. Had breakfast. Went to school. Maths test. Raining again.

It’s easy to see why the diaries I began each new year in my schooldays never lasted more than a few weeks. Entries like this (they were ALL like this) only showed how unexciting my life was. I couldn’t seem to find my own voice in these words, plus I cringed at starting sentences with ‘I’. It was all too self-conscious, too boring, too – aargh, just fling the wretched thing across the room!!

So, with such a failed record of diary-keeping, what do I do? Come up with a series of children’s books in the form of a diary. It’s so much more fun to write one from someone else’s point of view.

I am writing this on the train on my way to begin a New Chapter in my life! That accounts for the slitely wobbly handwriting…

That’s how Nancy Parker starts her second adventure. She’s so much more enthusiastic about everything than I was at 14. Ok, it is a detective diary, so she’s bound to see more action than I ever did.  The year is 1920 – and, just coincidentally, the dawn of the Golden Age of English crime writing from which I have ‘borrowed’ a few ideas. Nancy is a bright but poorly-educated London girl. Her only real option in life, like so many from her background, is to go into service as a lowly maidservant.

But Nancy has big dreams and bags of courage.  More than anything she wants to be a detective and doesn’t really see why that shouldn’t happen.  She loves lurid crime stories and her brain works overtime on theories about those around her, finding suspicious behaviour just about everywhere she looks. And who is better placed to spot such things than a housemaid: unimportant, unnoticed, but expected to be working hard behind the scenes?

I can never resist a bit of a culture-clash between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in my books – it’s an ever-present part of life and great for creating dramatic tension. The upstairs-downstairs nature of Nancy’s world gives me plenty of scope for this. Especially when she meets some mystery-loving children from the other side of the divide.

Writing Nancy’s journal entries let me really explore the way she expresses herself. She doesn’t hold back on giving her opinions. When events are really momentous, Nancy puts them in capital letters with lots of exclamation marks. And adds comments in brackets.  So I can indulge my love of !!! And of ( ). Even of ***. My editor at Oxford Children’s Books encouraged me to ramp up Nancy’s lists of suspicions and suspects, her diagrams and sketches, and the bits of evidence gathered and stuck into her notebook for safekeeping. Designer Holly Fulbrook and illustrator Chloe Bonfield went to town on how it all looks.

Does anyone keep an actual paper diary these days? But if you’ve started a new one, in whatever form – even if you’re not really struggling yet – think of it as a journal. Ignore the tyranny of daily entries. Just put in the momentous or funny or ridiculous things whenever they happen. Draw sketches, maps and plans, stick or scan in pictures, tickets and lists. Or just make stuff up, like I did.

And read Nancy Parker for inspiration! (Don’t hold back on those !!!)

You can buy Nancy Parker’s Spooky Speculations here or at your local book shop


About Julia Lee

I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. As a young child I was ill quite a bit, which meant I could spend lots of time lying in bed, reading – bliss.

I grew up in London, studied English at university, and have an MA in Creative Writing. I have worked in education and for children’s charities, particularly in the field of disability. My career has really been a series of accidents, as I tended to fall into jobs rather than seeking them out, because all the time I secretly wanted to be a writer!

I have written award-winning short stories and a novel for adults as Julia Widdows, and also researched and edited a book about disability, inclusion and everyday life.

I have two sons, and live in Sussex with my husband and an unhelpful cat.

You can find out more about Julia on her website – www.julialeeauthor.wordpress.com

Or why not follow Julia on twitter – @JuliaLeeAuthor


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at OUP I have 5 copies of this wonderful book to giveaway to 5 lucky winners!

UK Only

Ends 18/01/2017

Please do check the terms and conditions on the rafflecopter giveaway before entering

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A huge thank you to the wonderful Julia for such a wonderful post!

Another huge big thank you to Hannah at OUP for organising and for being so super wonderful!

Have you read any Nancy Parker books?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?  Are you starting a diary this New Year?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Beaky Malone Character Profiles by Barry Hutchison


My son and I are a huge fan of Beaky Malone!  We even did a #Read-Toy-Gether of the first book, Beaky Malone:  Worlds Greatest Liar here.  So when we both heard that there was a new book coming out we jumped around with joy!

Beaky Malone:  Worst Ever School Trip is released on the 12th January published by the brilliant Stripes Publishing and my son ran off to his room and devoured this book and plenty of laughs were heard along the way!  A hilarious new series from best-selling author, Barry Hutchison, perfect for fans of Tom Gates, Wimpy Kid and Barry Loser.

It’s been 92 hours since Beaky last told a lie and I simply cannot wait to see what this second book has in store for Beaky!  And with brilliant illustrations by the wonderful Katie Abey, Beaky and his friends are bought to life!

So today as part of the fab blog tour we thought it would be good to tell you a little about the characters in Beaky Malone….


About The Books

Dylan Malone, aka Beaky, has a habit for telling porkies – every time he opens his mouth, out pops a whopper… But then his long-suffering sister shoves him into the truth-telling machine at Madame Shirley’s Marvellous Emporium of Peculiarities. Now Beaky can’t tell a lie – not even a teeny-weeny one – and a truth-telling Beaky is even worse…

“I like to smell my own farts…” Gah! Someone shut me up!

It’s been 92 hours since Beaky last told a lie. So far he’s survived two full days of school with only three light beatings, two telling-offs and one wedgie … but the annual school trip is going to take Beaky’s survival skills to a whole other level – especially as a mix up in the school office means that Beaky and his class are on a trip to Learning Land, an educational theme park aimed at eight-year-olds. And home to cheery-but-creepy Clumso the Clued-up Clown whose job is to dish out fascinating facts to one and all.

But there is worse to come when Beaky’s partnered with Wayne, a.k.a the school bully, who has a morbid fear of clowns. With Beaky unable to tell a lie and Wayne intent on beating him up, things aren’t looking good. And that’s before they find themselves on the run from a manic clown who’ll seemingly stop at nothing to track them down…

You can buy the Beaky Malone books here or from your local bookshop


Beaky Malone Character Profiles

One of the best bits about being an author (besides getting to sit around drinking tea and eating biscuits in your pants all day) is that you get to hang around with some really strange people. And I don’t just mean other authors and school librarians, I mean the really strange people who live inside your head.

Sidenote: This has just reminded me that when I was fourteen or so, my mum told me that as a young lad of five, I’d approached her in the kitchen one day and said, “Mum, you know all those voices you hear in your head all the time…?” and she instantly knew I was going to grow up to be an author. Or a serial killer. It was fifty-fifty.

But I digress. Hanging out with people you make up is one of the things that makes being an author bearable (also the biscuits, mentioned above). Rather than go slowly mad from isolation and loneliness, we are instead surrounded at all times by a rich tapestry of different folks. Yes, some of them might be smelly bullies, grumpy teachers, or dangerously unhinged clowns, but hey, at least it’s not boring.

Here are some of the lovely (and not so lovely) people I got to hang about with while writing Beaky Malone: Worst Ever School Trip.

Name: Beaky (Actually, that’s not quite true. His real name is Dylan, but his big nose earned him the nickname “Beaky.”)

Bio: Once the world’s greatest liar, everything changed for Beaky when he stepped inside the only known truth-telling machine in existence. From that moment, he was unable to utter a single lie, and can now only listen in horror as his own mouth repeatedly betrays him by telling the truth over and over again.

Biggest secret: Now that he has to tell the truth all the time, Beaky doesn’t have many secrets left. Everyone knows, for example, that he fancies the dinner lady, enjoys the smell of his own farts, and regularly wears the same pants for a fortnight.

Name: Jodie

Bio: Beaky’s big sister was so fed up of his constant lying and manipulation that she willingly paid the princely sum of one whole pound to have him shoved in the truth-telling machine. Little did poor Jodie suspect, however, that a little brother who A) tells the truth all the time, and B) has memorised the contents of her diary, does not a good combination make. Now living in a state of almost constant embarrassment, Jodie is determined to help Beaky get his lying mojo back.

Biggest secret: Again, Beaky has revealed most of them, including her Top 5 list of boys she fancies, and the picture she drew in her diary where she combined her favourite parts of them all into one terrifying Frankenstein’s monster-style super boyfriend.

Name: Wayne

Bio: On the surface, headmaster’s son, Wayne, is a hard-working, thoughtful young lad, loved by all the teachers. His classmates, however, know he’s really a sneaky, violent bully, and do their best to avoid him at all costs. When Beaky blurts out one of Wayne’s biggest secrets on the way to the school trip, Wayne goes out of his way to make sure the boys get partnered up, so he can take his terrible revenge.

Biggest secret: Once wet himself at the sight of Clumso the Clued-Up Clown

Name: Theo

Bio: Beaky’s best mate, Theo, is one of the few people who believes Beaky’s story about not being able to tell a lie, and does his best to cover for him whenever he can. This usually means Theo ending up in trouble or humiliated, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Relaxed and laid-back to the point of being horizontal, Theo is fiercely loyal, and pretty much the best friend anyone could ever have.

Biggest secret: Once accidentally drank a whole bottle of breast milk. And quite liked it.

Name: Madame Shirley

Bio: The mysterious Madame Shirley is the owner of the even more mysterious Madame Shirley’s Marvellous Emporium of Peculiarities, the shop in which Beaky and Jodie found the truth-telling machine. An eccentric older woman (or, more accurately, crazy old lady) with hair like a startled scarecrow and an unhealthy obsession with pickled onion crisps, no-one knows where Madame Shirley came from – or, more importantly, where she went.

Biggest secret: How she made her shop disappear. And she’s keeping that one to herself.

Name: Clumso the Clued-Up Clown

Bio: The terrible mascot of the awful Learning Land ‘fun’ park, Clumso is a vaguely unsettling clown who loves to share general knowledge with park visitors, often via the medium of rap. However, when a terrified Wayne shoves him to the ground in panic, Clumso discovers something else he loves, too. Revenge!

Biggest secret: As he has to work up to twelve hours a day without any breaks, Clumso’s comically oversized trousers always contain 3 Mars Bars, 2 cans of Tizer, and an adult-sized nappy.

Name: Destructo

Bio: Beaky and Jodie’s pet dog is an enormous Great Dane with an even bigger appetite. Destructo will destroy and/or consume pretty much anything, given half a chance, hence his name. Past things he has eaten include Beaky’s homework, Beaky’s schoolbag and, on one memorable occasion, the family’s TV.

Biggest secret: Where Dad’s watches are buried.

Those are a few of the characters I got to spend time with while writing the second Beaky Malone book. If you’d like to get to know them yourself, please go right ahead and pick up a copy of Beaky Malone: Worst Ever School Trip. Honest, I won’t mind.

You can buy the Beaky Malone books here or from your local bookshop

You can find a #Read-Toy-Gether review of the first Beaky Malone: Worlds Greatest Liar here

Or find our How To Be Funny with this previous guest post from Barry Hutchison here


About Barry Hutchison

Barry Hutchison is an award-winning children’s author and screenwriter. His first book – INVISIBLE FIENDS: MR MUMBLES – was published in 2010 to critical acclaim. The book went on to win the Royal Mail Award for Scottish Children’s Books in 2011, by which point two more books in the horror series had been published.

In 2012 HarperCollins Children’s Books published Barry’s comedy fantasy novel, THE 13TH HORSEMAN, which was even more well-received than MR MUMBLES, with fans including the multi-award-winning best-selling author, Neil Gaiman. Shortly after Horseman won the Scottish Children’s Book Award, a sequel – The Book of Doom – was published.

Since 2008 Barry has written over fifty books for children, including several based on the hit Cartoon Network show, BEN 10. When not writing he is usually visiting schools and libraries to run events and story-writing workshops for kids and adults alike.

He recently wrote thirty-six episodes of the CITV comedy series, BOTTOM KNOCKER STREET, starring comedian Phill Jupitus.

Barry lives in the Highlands of Scotland with his wife, Fiona, and their two children, Kyle and Mia. His biggest fear is that someone will one day discover how much fun his job is and immediately put a stop to it. His second biggest fear is squirrels.

You can find out more about Barry and his books on his website – www.barryhutchison.com

Or why not follow Barry on twitter – @barryhutchison


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Barry for a fantastic super funny guest post, Katie Abey for the fantastic illustrations and to Charlie at Stripes Publishing for organising this and having me as part of the tour.

Have you read Beaky Malone Worst Ever School Trip?  What did you think?  Who was your favourite character?  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 laughing!

Spotlight – The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson


Today marks my 400th blog post since I started my blog in November 2014 and what better way to celebrate than to shine the spotlight on a wonderful debut book!

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson was released on the 5th January 2017 published by Scholastic and is set to be a moving and honest debut that I simply cannot wait to read!

I jumped at the chance to be a part of the wonderful blog tour and today I have a copy of The Goldfish Boy to giveaway in celebration so do check the bottom of the post!

Can a young boy face his fears to solve a mystery?

Share your #GoldfishBoy experience


About The Goldfish Boy

A story about finding friendship when you’re lonely and hope when all you feel is fear.

Twelve-year-old Matthew is trapped in his bedroom by crippling OCD, spending most of his time staring out of his window as the inhabitants of Chestnut Close go about their business.

That is, until the day he is the last person to see his next door neighbour’s toddler, Teddy, before he goes missing.

Now Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy’s disappearance – with a little help from a surprising and brilliant cast of supporting characters.

Full of heart and a genuine and honest confrontation of some of the ways in which life can be hard to handle, this is a story about the courage it takes to face your fears and learn to live with them. Page-turning and heart-breaking, but ultimately life-affirming, this story is perfect for fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Wonder.

It is a book that will make you think about everything there is to discover, just waiting beyond your front door.

‘A genuinely clever mystery.’  – Robin Stevens, author of Murder Most Unladylike

‘A great cast of characters and an intriguing mystery – I loved it!’ – Ross Welford, author of Time Travelling with a Hamster

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


About Lisa Thompson

 Lisa Thompson worked as a Radio Broadcast Assistant first at the BBC and then for an independent production company making plays and comedy programmes. During this time she got to make tea for lots of famous people. She grew up in Essex and now lives in Suffolk with her family. The Goldfish Boy is her debut novel.
 
The Goldfish Boy is the highly anticipated debut novel  from sparkling new voice and one-to-watch, Lisa Thompson.

You can follow Lisa on twitter – @lthompsonwrites


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Scholastic I have 1 copy of this wonderful book to giveaway to 1 lucky winner!

UK Only

Ends 14/01/2017

Please do check the terms and conditions on the rafflecopter giveaway before entering

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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 Lorraine at Scholastic for asking me to be part of the blog tour, for organising and for being so super wonderful!

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

Happy Reading!

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