Tag Archives: YA Shot

Tales Q&A with Lisa Heathfield and Me!

Today is my stop on the fab #YAShot2018 Blog Tour and I have been paired with the wonderful Lisa Heathfield!

YA Shot is an author-run, author-led Young Adult and Middle Grade festival that raises the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. We believe in equal access to books and opportunities for all – YA Shot brings UKYA and UKMG authors together to pursue that goal, supporting libraries and young people across the country.

So for our stop I wanted you all to get to know a little bit more about Lisa and in turn Lisa thought it would be fun for people to know me a little better too….

‘Trust Us’ the Kindreds tell Pearl and so she does.

A thrilling story of life in a cult.

Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship Nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. When some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed.  A darkness from which she must escape, before it’s too late.

A chilling and heartbreaking coming-of-age story of life within a cult, Seed was shortlisted for the Waterstones’ Children’s Book Prize in 2016. 

Stand By Me meets We Were Liars – a heartbreaking and stunning breakout novel for teenagers from the award-nominated author of Seed.

June’s life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. Not even her father knows about it. She’s trapped like a butterfly in a jar.

But then she meets Blister, a boy in the woods. And in him, June recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away. But freedom comes at a price . . . 

Paper Butterflies is an unforgettable read, perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson’s The Art of Being Normal, Sarah Crossan’s Moonrise, Jandy Nelson, Jennifer Niven and Louise O’Neill.

The stunning new novel from award-shortlisted Lisa Heathfield, author of Seed and Paper Butterflies. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places, Lisa Williamson, Sarah Crossan and Sara Barnard.

Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.

Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?

Flight of a Starling is a heartbreaking read with an important message.

You can buy any of Lisa’s books here or from your local bookshop!

Hi Lisa!  I’m so happy to have you here on Tales again!  You are one of my absolute favourite authors so it’s an absolute honour.

So here’s how this will work….

We each ask each other a question.  Any question.  About anything at all.  And we both have to answer!

Here we go!

What is your favourite smell?

Lisa – Our boys’ hair. From when they were babies to now, it’s the best smell ever.

Chelle – For me its a toss up between talc powder (that fresh baby smell) and Lush Snow Fairy shower gel!  I have to buy it every Christmas!

Name a favourite memory from  your childhood.

Lisa – Lying on my belly in the grass reading a book.

Chelle – Oh I have lots of childhood memories!  When I think of my childhood I think of wandering off with my brother in the woods for hours in a place we used to spend a lot of time when we were kids and him scaring me and my sister about ghosts that haunted the woods.  As I got older a favourite childhood memory is devouring a Point Horror every weekend and trying to collect them all (I still am!)

Where is your favourite place?

Lisa – Either in the Brighton sea in winter, or in the middle of nowhere on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.

Chelle – Kind of related to my above answer, but one of my fave places is a little place called Arley near Bewdley.  I spent a lot of time there when I was younger and when I visit there now it just makes me relax.  It’s so peaceful and full of so many memories.

Name the last thing that made you smile.

Lisa – hugging my boys this morning.

Chelle – Same for me too…..hugging my son!  So much love in one hug!

What is your favourite song?

Lisa – Any and every Gospel song.

Chelle – Mine is so different!  I have so many it hard to pick just one!  If I had to chose I would say Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana!  So much of my teenage years revolved around this song!  From blasting it out on my stereo to trying to learn it on guitar!  I love it!  Even to this day when it comes on my Spotify playlist I have to turn the volume up!

Chelle – In complete contrast my favourite ever line from a song is “I’ll never let your head, hit the bed, without my hand behind it” from Your Body Is A Wonderland by John Mayer.  Yes it’s cheesy and embarrassing but that one line is just pure love and romance to me!

What is you favourite book?

Lisa – I’ve three: The Folk Of The Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton, The Book Thief – Markus Zusak and As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

Chelle – As we were only meant to pick one Lisa and you picked three 🙂 …. I am cheating and picking two!  Watership Down by Richard Addams and One Day by David Nicholls.  Both very different books but both so brilliant!  I love them!

Name your favourite word.

Lisa – It changes, but at the moment it’s ‘fold’

Chelle – I’m not sure I have a favourite word!  What does that even mean?!  Should I have a favourite word?  Hmmmmmmm…..I am going to say “love” just to go along with my cheesy theme above!

What is your favourite line from a book?

Lisa – ‘My mother is a fish.’ – From As I Lay Dying.

Chelle – This changes quite a lot for me as sometimes I read a sentence in a book and get swept away completely by just that one line and I think wow.  But I do have a favourite line that left me quite breathless if that’s even possible when I read it……  “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once” from The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  Pure perfection in a sentence.

Name a book you want to read, but haven’t yet!

Lisa – I’ve wanted to read Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, for years and years. A friend bought me a beautiful copy of it after we went to visit the Bronte’s house in Haworth, but for some reason I keep saving it…

Chelle – Good call with Wuthering Heights as I have never read it either!  Even though I keep saying I will!  I have so many books and so little time, but I think for me it’s To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Why have I never read this?!

Name a book that you would give as a present

Lisa – It changes, but at the moment it’s Moonrise, by Sarah Crossan. I’ve also given a fair few people The Book Thief. And Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses.

Chelle – Mine changes too and without sounding too cheesy I would give your books, Lisa, as presents as they are all wonderful!  I would also include All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and One Day as those books have my heart!

Where is your favourite place to read?

Lisa – if it could be absolutely anywhere, it’d have to be in a field with really long grass and me and a book sunk into the middle of it where no one can see.

Chelle – I love to read sitting on the hill at my favourite place mentioned above.  Other than that snuggling up in bed for a good read is perfect!

And your favourite place to write?

Lisa – I write every day at my kitchen table and that’s a nice place to be.

Chelle – I normally just write at my desk in my little office at home, but I attended a writing outdoors workshop at YALC a few years ago and it’s honestly so inspiring to sit and listen to all the sounds around you whilst you are writing!

Name a book that you wish you had written

Lisa – The Hunger Games – not just because it’s brilliant, but because I would love to spend months in that world with those characters.

Chelle – One Day by David Nicholls.  What a book!  Or basically any book that makes you feel such emotion that you cry just thinking about it!  I would love to write something that people have that much of an emotional connection to.

Or It by Stephen King! 🙂

You can buy any of Lisa’s books here or from your local bookshop!

About Lisa Heathfield

Before becoming a mum to her three sons, Lisa Heathfield was a secondary school English teacher and loved inspiring teenagers to read.

Award-winning author Lisa Heathfield launched her writing career with SEED in 2015. Published by Egmont it is a stunning YA debut about a life in cult. PAPER BUTTERFLIES is her beautiful and heart-breaking second novel. FLIGHT OF A STARLING, her third novel is equally heart-breaking and contains an important message.

Lisa lives in Brighton with her family.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter – @LisaHeathfield

Previously On Tales….

You can find previous Lisa Heathfield related posts on Tales by clicking on the below links!

Tales Review – Seed by Lisa Heathfield

Tales Q&A with Lisa Heathfield

Cover Reveal – Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

Tales Review – Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield


With thanks to the lovely people at Electric Monkey myself and YA Shot 2 sets of Lisa’s books to giveaway to two lucky winners!

You can enter via my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 04/04/2018

Good Luck!

Blog Tour

Make sure you follow the rest of the fab YA Shot 2018 Blog Tour!

A huge thank you to Lisa for such a fab post and for asking me to join in and to Electric Monkey for the giveaway.  Also a huge thank you to YA Shot for having me and for pairing me with Lisa.

Have you read any of Lisa’s books?  Are you intrigued? Are you going to YA Shot?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading

Guest Post – Inspiration by Emma Craigie

Today is my stop on the fab #YAShot2018 Blog Tour and I have been paired with the wonderful Emma Craigie! YA Shot is an author-run, author-led Young Adult and Middle Grade festival that raises the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. We believe in equal access to books and opportunities for all – YA Shot brings UKYA and UKMG authors together to pursue that goal, supporting libraries and young people across the country.

So for our stop I wanted to get to know Emma and her books a little more and to find out a little about her inspiration….

The cutter came last night. I recognized her: her black clothes, her narrow face and the yellow whites of her eyes. 15-year-old Zahra has lived in England most of her life, but she is haunted by memories of her early childhood: the warm sun and loud gunfire, playing with her older sister in the time before “the visitors” came. It is hard to make sense of everything that happened, and it feels impossible to talk about, but when three eerily familiar women arrive unexpectedly for tea Zahra realises that the dangers of the past could still destroy her. What Was Never Said is the powerful story of a girl navigating the demands of two very different and conflicting worlds; a tale of surviving loss and overcoming fears.

Helga’s childhood as the eldest of five children in Germany’s First Family has been a gilded one, accompanying her parents to parties and rallies, moving between the city and their idyllic country estate. But the war has changed everything. And now, as defeat closes in on the Germans, Helga must move into a bunker in the heart of Berlin with her family and key members of the crumbling Nazi leadership – to be with their beloved Hitler. There is chocolate cake for tea every day with Uncle Leader, but Helga cannot help noticing that all is not well among the grown-ups. As each day passes, her underground world becomes increasingly tense and strange. There are tears and shouting behind slammed doors, and when even the soldiers who have been guarding them take their leave, Helga is faced with a terrible truth. Perhaps her perfect childhood has not been all that it seemed…


What Was Never Said is the story of a teenage girl who has to confront a painful past in order to protect herself and her younger sister.   Zahra and her family have come to England to escape war, but there are secrets in the family, and as her parents’ plans become clear, Zahra realises her new life is no longer safe.

The idea for What Was Never Said came into my head on a Saturday morning in July in 2012.  I was sitting in a huge auditorium in Bristol University when a skinny boy stepped across the stage in front of a long row of adults – health and legal experts from across the world – and came to the front holding a hand mic.  The hall fell silent as he began to speak:

You don’t understand how weird it is to be standing here as a MAN, yes, not a boy, a man, from my community, talking about Female Genital Mutilation.  Believe me, Somali men never talk about womens bits, even amongst themselves.

The audience laughed uncomfortably.   I squirmed inwardly.  I had met this boy a couple of times. His name was Mukhtar Hassan, he was 14 years old and a member of Integrate Bristol –http://integrateuk.org/ –  a group which facilitates campaigns by young people.  Integrate had organised this conference,  the first ever international conference about Female Genital Mutilation, and my immediate feeling was that they had got it wrong.  Muhktar’s words were embarrassingly slangy.  “Bits” made me cringe –  not a word, I felt, which should be spoken in such a formal setting.   I held my breath, hoping things would get better.

I had met Muhktar, his older sister Muna, and the other young members of Integrate when I was doing research for a novel about a group of young friends from different religious backgrounds.    Like many young people in East Bristol they came from a Muslim Somali background – a community where FGM is still often practised.   I was really interested in the boldness and clarity of their campaign.   I didn’t know much about FGM but I soon learnt from them.  FGM is defined as non-medical surgery on the female genitalia. There are a number of different types, all of which cause tremendous pain, bring a risk of infertility and death, and deprive women of sexual enjoyment.   FGM has been carried out in some parts of the world for thousands of years, and is estimated that there are over 200 million women and girls alive today who have undergone some form of it.  It  The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 3 million girls at risk of FGM every year.   These young people were – are – determined to end it and had brought together international experts to determine how that could be done.

Muhktar continued on the failure of Somali men to talk about ‘women’s bits”:

… perhaps thats the problem.  Too many people have been quiet for too long.  But the point is IF FGM is to stop, and it HAS to stop, then everybody, regardless of gender or race, has to take a stand.  I stand here as a brother, a cousin, a son, and a future father… hopefully.  I also stand here as a friend and a human being.

I breathed out. The audience applauded loudly.  Muhktar had not got it wrong.  He had got it completely right.  He had made us uncomfortable and challenged us to overcome that discomfort.   Up to this point, I thought, like many people, that FGM was a bad thing, but that it was not my problem.   Muhktar changed my perspective.   If a 14 year old boy could stand up in front of hundreds of people and talk about “women’s bits” , I could stand up too.   Suddenly the centre of my novel shifted.   I had found the story which I needed to tell.

Chocolate Cake with Hitler is a novel which tells the true story of the children of the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

Chocolate Cake With Hitler also started with a sudden realisation.    I had long known that at the end of World War 2 Hitler hid in an underground bunker.  I remember picturing it when I was a child, imagining Hitler lying flat in some kind of coffin shaped rabbit hole, hiding from his advancing enemies.   It must have been shortly afterwards that I heard of the fact that Eva Braun, his wife, was with him, as I can remember trying to squeeze her into this imagined bunker.   But it was much later,  long after I understood that the bunker was a concrete network of rooms, full of soldiers and secretaries, and cooks and nurses and doctors, that I learnt that there were six children down in the bunker with him.  And when I realised this, I couldn’t believe it was so little known that there had, at that point, never been a book about them.

There were five girls and one boy, aged between 4 and 12.  The children of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda.   10 days before Germany surrendered, they had decided to show their loyalty to the Fuhrer by joining him underground in Berlin.  They knew the defeat of Germany was inevitable – but that was not what they told the children.   They pretended that they were joining their leader so that they would be with him for the imminent victory celebrations.

I started reading every account I could find of Hitler’s bunker.  The children rarely got a mention.  The person who gave them most attention in her account of her days in the bunker was one of Hitler’s secretaries, Traudl Junge.   There was a particular paragraph in her memoir, Until the Final Hour, that haunted me, and was the inspiration for telling the story of the Goebbels children from the perspective of 12 year old Helga.

Junge wrote that during their time in the bunker the children were on the whole “happy and cheerful…”  They spent their time playing in the bunker corridors and once a day drank hot chocolate and ate chocolate cake with Hitler, often singing German folk songs to him.  Junge tells us, “They knew nothing of the fate awaiting them, and the adults did all they could to keep them unaware of it… Only the oldest, Helga, sometimes had a sad knowing expression in her big, brown eyes… Sometimes I think with horror that in her heart the child saw through the pretence of the grown-ups.”

I was the oldest of five children, and I remember being 12.  It was an odd age – my younger brothers and sisters suddenly seemed very childish, but my parents and their friends were no more interesting to me.  I could hardly bear to imagine a world in which the parents were planning to kill you, and none of your siblings had any idea.   But then I couldn’t bear not to.








You can buy a copy of Emma’s books here or from your local book shop!

Chocolate Cake With Hitler was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie medal and the Financial Times / Authors Club First Novel Award.

What Was Never Said was also nominated for the CILIP Carnegie medal and is a White Raven Book.  http://www.childrenslibrary.org/servlet/WhiteRavens 

About Emma Craigie

Emma Craigie is a writer and teacher.  She lives in Somerset.

Her most recent novel, What Was Never Said, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016 and selected for the White Ravens Catalogue .

You can find out more about Emma on her website – www.emmacraigie.co.uk

Or why not follow Emma on twitter – @craigieemma


With thanks to the lovely people at Short Books myself and YA Shot have a copy of each book to giveaway to one lucky winner!







You can enter via my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 10/03/2018

Good Luck!

Blog Tour

Make sure you follow the rest of the fab YA Shot 2018 Blog Tour!

A huge thank you to Emma for such a fab post which has made me super intrigued to go and grab these books and to Short Books for the giveaway.  Also a huge thank you to YA Shot for having me and for pairing me with Emma.

Have you read any of Emma’s books?  Are you intrigued? Are you going to YA Shot?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading

Guest Post – A Guide To Sophie Someone’s Brussels by Hayley Long


Not only am I part of the brilliant YA Shot team, but I also get to host a brilliant post with a super awesome author who will be appearing at YA Shot!

 I am super excited to have the lovely Hayley Long on Tales today with a wonderful guest post – A Guide To Sophie Someone’s Brussels!

I also have a brilliant giveaway so do check out the bottom of the post!

Hayley will be appearing at YA Shot in Uxbridge on the 22nd October!

yashot2016YA Shot is an author-run, author-led Young Adult and Middle Grade festival that raises the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. YA Shot believe in equal access to books and opportunities for all – YA Shot brings UKYA and UKMG authors together to pursue that goal, supporting libraries and young people across the country. At present, YA Shot is a not-for-profit organisation but we’re seeking to become a charity.

YA Shot is a one-day annual festival based in the centre of Uxbridge (London). The 2016 festival will take place on Saturday 22nd October 2016. Around 70 authors are involved in a programme of workshop, panel and ‘in conversation’ events (plus book-signing sessions) in the Uxbridge Civic Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. There is also a programme of fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops. YA Shot is run in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge.

You can buy tickets for YA Shot here

So come along and join in the fun!


A remarkable tale of confusion and betrayal – and a very special girl called Sophie.

‘Some stories are hard to tell.
Even to your very best friend.
And some words are hard to get out of your mouth. Because they spell out secrets that are too huge to be spoken out loud.
But if you bottle them up, you might burst.
So here’s my story. Told the only way I dare tell it.’

Sophie Nieuwenleven is sort of English and sort of Belgian. Sophie and her family came to live in Belgium when she was only four or five years old, but she’s fourteen now and has never been quite sure why they left England in the first place. Then, one day, Sophie makes a startling discovery. Finally Sophie can unlock the mystery of who she really is. This is a story about identity and confusion – and feeling so utterly freaked out that you just can’t put it into words. But it’s also about hope. And the belief that, somehow, everything will work out OK.

SOPHIE SOMEONE is a tale of well-intentioned but stupid parenting, shock, acceptance and, ultimately, forgiveness, written in a brave, memorable and unique language all of its own.

A Guide To Sophie Someone’s Brussels

My most recent novel, Sophie Someone, is set in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium.  I knew my story was going to be set in Brussels before I even knew what the story was.  My logic for this was threefold:

  1. I knew the city because – a long time ago – I lived there for a while.
  2. I fell in love with the place.
  3. There just aren’t enough novels set in Brussels. There should be many, many more.  In fact, Brussels Fiction should become a genre of its own:  Bruction, maybe?  Or, actually, maybe not…

So anyway, I decided that Brussels was where Sophie and her family lived and this meant that I ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY had to go back to Brussels for purposes of serious research.  Just to remind myself what it was like.  The first time I went by myself.  The second time – I was very thorough – I went with a friend.  On both trips I took pictures of the locations and sights that would form the backdrop of SOPHIE SOMEONE.

Here they are:  Let’s start with…


This is a street sign for Rue Sans Souci.  Although actually you probably don’t need me to tell you this.  When I was 20-something, I lived just around the corner from Rue Sans Souci but I always secretly wished that I lived on the street itself.  It wasn’t a particularly flashy street or anything.  I just liked its name.  Quite literally, it is No Worries Road.  What a fabulous place to live!  EVERY street should be called No Worries Road in my opinion.  Needless to say, this is where Sophie and her family live.  Ironically, they have a LOT OF WORRIES to contend with.  Life is rarely simple, is it?


Just above is an actual picture of Rue Sans Souci.  I really liked that there was a massive random photo of a boy with his mouth hanging open on the side of a house.  I’m not sure whether this signifies his carefree lack of concerns or whether it is, in fact, a desperate scream of anguish. In my novel, I’m afraid Sophie is more likely to be screaming with anguish.  In fact, she’s so stressed-out, she finds it really hard to speak about what she is going through.  Her family’s muddle is so nuts she can’t even put it into words.  In order to tell us, she invents a coded language so that she can spill the beans on her mum and dad’s misdemeanours without feeling too much guilt.  As I said, life is rarely simple.

And now we come to…


…the Palais de Justice.  Otherwise known as the law courts.  It is ENORMOUS.  Absolutely enormous.  In fact, King Leopold II demolished an entire neighbourhood to build it.  And it seems like it’s still being built because it’s perpetually covered in scaffolding.  This huge building stands on high ground and looms over the entire city.  In Sophie Someone, it is there in the background, reminding the people of the city that wrongdoers will be punished.  Maybe this is why Sophie’s mum develops agoraphobia and is too frightened to leave her flat?

And now for something completely random…


Maybe the presence of the Palais de Justice is having the desired effect?  This is a piece of graffiti I spotted nearby.  It says ‘I love the police – sorry.’  For some reason, this public display of affection made me laugh.  In Sophie Someone, Sophie’s parents do NOT love the police – they are too busy hiding from them!


Above is a picture of Place Flagey.  It is through this square that Sophie walks in the snow to see her friend, Comet.  As she crosses the square, she is intercepted by a group of boys on skateboards who call her names and cause her to question her family loyalties and WHO she really is.  ‘I am Sophie Someone’ she tells them and this soon shuts up the skater-boys.  By any standards, Sophie Someone is a pretty cool name, I think.

Not far from Place Flagey is this place…


This is the beautiful Etangs d’Ixelles – one of several ponds which run alongside a very beautiful street in a particularly gorgeous area of the city.  Sophie’s friend Comet lives just opposite one of these ponds.  Lucky girl!  Mind you, Comet has some serious worries of her own to contend with.  I guess that no street can ever really be a No Worries Road, can it?

And lastly, I couldn’t show you Sophie’s Brussels without showing you….


…the Manneken Pis.  The clue is in the second word!  It’s a very famous statue of a little boy obeying the call of nature.  It’s not an obvious moment to immortalise in stone but then again, that’s probably what I love so much about Brussels.  It’s a bit weird in places and not obviously beautiful, but it’s also unpretentious, honest, down-to-earth and fun.  Actually, it’s one of my favourite places on the planet.



On Saturday 22 of October, I shall be in conversation with Rosie Rowell as part of YA Shot and we’ll be talking about our novels and the journeys of self-discovery that our characters undertake.

Hope to see some of you there!


To celebrate YA Shot, I am giving away a signed copy of ‘Sophie Someone’ and a signed copy of my non-fiction book ‘Being a Girl’ over on Chelley’s twitter here









UK only please.  

Ends 26th October!

About Hayley Long


I was born in Ipswich ages ago and grew up by the sea in Felixstowe.  I had a lot of different jobs before I started writing books.  Amongst other things, I sold shoes, folded sweaters, pulled pints, cleaned tents, guided people through a Tunisian souk, did vague things in various offices, and taught  English in Brussels, London, Cardiff and Norwich.  But for now, I’m devoting myself exclusively to reading and writing.

My first novel for teens was Lottie Biggs is Not Mad.  This was awarded the White Raven Award for exceptional and innovative books for children by the International Youth Library in Munich.  Since then I’ve had lots more books published, been translated into other languages, been nominated for a Costa book award – twice!!! – and been on the news – in a good way.

I live in Norwich with a house rabbit and a husband. The rabbit is pictured left.  The husband prohibits the use of his photo or any other image representing his face on this page.  So a drawing of the back of his head is given on the right.

You can find out more about Hayley and her books on her website – www.hayleylong.org

A huge thank you to Hayley for such a fab blog post and for such a fab giveaway!

You can catch up on the rest of the YA Shot Blog Tour here

Have you read Sophie Someone?  What did you think?  Have you ever been to Brussel’s?  Are you coming to YA Shot?  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 – Libraries, Bubble Bath and Camels by Alison Rattle










I am super excited to be a part of the YA Shot Blog Tour and thanks to the lovely author and YA Shot organiser Alexia Casale I have been paired up with the lovely and fascinating Alison Rattle!


“YA Shot is a one-day Young Adult and Middle Grade ‘festival’ taking place in the centre of Uxbridge on Wednesday 28 October 2015 in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge. 71 authors will be involved in a programme of workshop, panel and ‘in conversation’ events (plus book-signing sessions) in the Uxbridge Civic Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. There is also a programme of 6 fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops. YA Shot is part of the ‘Culture Shot’ (now called ‘Culture Bite’) programme of events that the Libraries are organising across the Borough in October 2015.”

You can find out more about YA Shot by visiting the website www.yashot.co.uk

To buy tickets for this fab event click here

When I was paired with Alison the lovely people at Hot Key Books sent me a copy of The Beloved.  I’ve not read anything by Alison before so I am hugely excited to read this.  Thanks Hot Key!


I am going to be reading this very soon as part of a read along for YA Shot Goodreads Group!

YA Shot 2015
YA Shot 2015 19 members

Discussion about YA Shot 2015, particularly to link up with other people going and to discuss pre…


So now let me pass you over to the lovely Alison who is here today to discuss her love of libraries….

Libraries, Bubble Bath and Camels

I love a library. An anywhere library. A library in a phone box, a library in a coffee shop, in a van, on a narrowboat and yes – on a camel. The Mongolian Children’s Mobile Library in fact, which carries books via camel to remote communities in the Gobi desert. How cool is that? Or hot. It is the Gobi desert after all.

     And did you know, that before the Public Libraries and Museum Act of 1964, which made it obligatory for every council to provide its community with a free lending library, many folks used to trip along to their local branch of Boots the Chemist to borrow a book or two? Introduced in 1898 by Florence Boot (a lover of literature), the Boots Booklovers Library had 450 branches and over one million borrowers in its heyday. The libraries were situated at the back of the shops and were beautifully fitted out, with comfortable chairs, carpets and plants and flowers. For a small subscription customers could borrow as many books as they wished and when they had finished reading, they could return to books to the same branch they borrowed them from or to any other branch of Boots in Great Britain. So along with all your toiletry essentials, soap, indigestion remedies and of course, bubble bath, you could take home the latest romance, western or whodunit. Sadly, with the advent of cheaper paperbacks and the opening of more and more public libraries (hooray!), the last branches of Boots Booklovers Libraries closed in 1966.


I love the idea of a library in a chemist shop. In fact, it’s that sort of quirky social history detail that I’m always on the lookout for. My first three YA novels were all inspired by such fabulous historical titbits. The Quietness was inspired by the horrific trade of baby farming in the 19th century, The Madness by the business of 19th century sea bathing and The Beloved by the true story of a mad preacher and a Victorian cult. And libraries have played a MASSIVE part in the whole research process for each of these books.









   Yes, I know the internet is a wonderful tool. It truly is. But you can’t find EVERYTHING on there. And if you don’t actually know what you’re looking for, then where do you begin? But go to a library and rifle through the history and local history sections and you’re guaranteed to come across some brilliant nugget, some sparkling gem, some little piece of historical wonderfulness that you’ve never heard of before. There’s nothing I like better than settling down in a snug room with floor to ceiling shelves groaning under the weight of hundreds of books just waiting to give up their glorious secrets. It can take just one sentence, one photograph, one unusual story to spark my imagination and to begin the journey into a whole new world.

     It’s how I first learned that laudanum (a derivative of opium) was routinely given to babies in the Victorian era, that a woman walked every street in London to create the first A-Z map and that tea leaves were once used to clean carpets!

     One of my favourite libraries (which has since closed and moved its collection to a new building in Yorkshire) was the British Newspaper Library at Colindale. This library was an astonishing place, housing around 700,000 bound volumes of newspapers and magazines, some dating back to the 17th century. Inside, it was all high windows and wood panelling and smelt gorgeous; of musty paper, granny’s front room, polish and pencils. The majority of the newspapers had been transferred onto microfilm to preserve the original copies, but it was still possible to order original copies of many 19th century newspapers. They were delivered to your table in huge bound books and I cannot tell you how amazing it was to turn the crackling pages inside and to be transported to another time and place. Many of the newspapers were so fragile that the edges of the paper flaked off in your fingers.

     I spent hours in another century, reading of gruesome murders and the subsequent investigations and laughing at the claims of advertisements for products still familiar today. BOVRIL – imparts new strength and increased vitality to the system, fortifying it against diphtheria, influenza, colds, chills and other prevalent ailments. Ha! Who knew?

     The miscellaneous advertisement columns provided an invaluable insight into everyday life with adverts for ‘maids wanted’, ‘pianos for sale’ and ‘washing taken in’ placed next to sinister ‘babies wanted’ adverts…


Oooh, I loved that place so much I could have moved in permanently!

     I don’t get the chance to travel to as many libraries as I used to, but my local library in Wells, Somerset is still my first port of call when I’m beginning a project, when I haven’t got a clue where to begin, when I want a warm place of refuge, when I want peace and quiet to work…in fact, any excuse and you’ll find me there. Like right here and now in fact. Now SSHHH, I’ve got a blog to finish….

About Alison Rattle


I was brought up in Liverpool in the days when children could still play out on the streets and you only went home when your mum shouted you in for tea. But unfortunately I lost my Scouse accent after years of living in the Midlands. I live in Somerset now with my three teenage children (am I really that old?), my partner – a carpenter – an extremely naughty Jack Russell and a ghost cat. I yearn for a cottage by the sea.

Before becoming a writer I was a fashion designer and I still like to dress the part; much to the embarrassment of my teenage daughters. I was also a production controller for a group of newspapers, a painter and decorator and a barmaid. I now own a teeny tiny tea room and get to eat cake and talk about books all day with my lovely customers

I have written books for adults on subjects as diverse as ghosts, mad monarchs, how to boil a flamingo and the history of America. But writing for teenagers is the most satisfying job in the whole world.

I read loads every day and usually have three books on the go at once: one in the loo, one by my bed and one in the kitchen for when I’m cooking. I quite often burn the dinner. My favourite books are ones that deal with uncomfortable subjects and really get inside your head. I loved Jenny Downham’s Before I Die and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. Brilliant!

I was inspired to write The Quietness when I read an original transcript of a trial at the Old Bailey in 1871. A woman was sentenced to hang for murdering babies in her care. One of the witnesses was her 15-year old housemaid called Ellen. I couldn’t get this maid out of my head and kept imagining her life and what she saw and how she felt. I had to do loads of research for the book and learnt so much about the grim and gruesome side of life in Victorian England. Which of course I loved!

You can find out more about Alison on her website here

Or why not follow Alison on twitter using @alisonrattle

You can but Alison’s books here

Ya Shot Blog Tour

yashotblogtour1You can catch up and keep up to date on the YA Shot Blog Tour here


A huge thank you to Alison for an absolutely brilliant guest post and to the lovely Alexia Casale for not only pairing me with Alison, but for organising the brilliant YA Shot!

*hugs to you both*

Have you read any of Alison Rattle’s books?  What did you think?  Do you have any fab library stories?  Will you be attending YA Shot?  Do let me know!  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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