Sunday 31 August 2014

Book Blogger UKYA Awards - Vote Here!

Look, a post! They may be few and far between, but this is the second here in four days. I feel productive. (Well, productive-ish - after last week's fab Becka Moor/Harriet Whitehorn interview, today's post with the chance to vote for the Book Blogger UKYA Awards is by the wonderful Faye from A Daydreamer's Thoughts, so it's not like I've had to write it, but I get SOME credit for scheduling, yeah? 

No? Bah... 

Thanks Faye, for the post AND the brilliant awards organisation!
 photo UKYAAward_zpsb1be5f88.gif 

Hey Guys! Today I am here with VERY exciting news! It is the shortlist of the Book Blogger UKYA Awards! This is the time for YOU to vote for your favourite from the list!

Voting is open until 21st September. Make sure you don’t miss out! Voting will also be happening a little differently than the nominations.

On this blog you will be voting for: Funniest Book, Most Heartbreaking Book, Best First Sentence, Best Ending

And then you will hop along to the next blog to vote for more awards!

There are five different awards to jump to (and five/six bloggers hosting each group, but you only need to visit five blogs!).

This doesn’t have to happen all at once, it gives you the chance to vote in your leisure – but make sure you do so before 21st September.


Jump To (choose which blog for each category you want to visit!)
Best Contemporary, Best Historical, Best Crime/Mystery, and Best LGBT
Big Book Little Book
Fabulous Book Fiend
Feeling Fictional
It Takes A Woman
The YA’s Nightstand  

Best Horror, Best Sci-fi/Fantasy, Best Paranormal, Best Adventure
Winged Reviews
K – Books
To Another World
Bookish Outsider

Best Protagonist, Best Couple, Best Friendship, Best Villain
Snuggling on the Sofa
Much Loved Books
Hush Hush Revealings
The Pewter Wolf
The Little Munchkin Reader

Best Self-Published, Most Social Author (Online), Most Social Author (Offline), Author Whose Mind You Wish Was Yours
A Daydreamer’s Thoughts
This Fleeting Dream
Bookish Treasures
Escapism From Reality
Book to Basics

Thursday 28 August 2014

Blog Tour: Violet and the Pearl of the Orient by Harriet Whitehorn and Becka Moor

One of my favourite recent reads was the wonderful Violet and the Pearl of the Orient, written by Harriet Whitehorn and illustrated by Becka Moor! I was thrilled to get the chance to interview BOTH of them, and am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour here!



1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
Id love to say an equal mix of girls and boys but I think realistically my readers will mostly be girls, although a boy named Art does join Violet and Rose on their adventures in Book 2, so maybe I can lure a few boy readers in then. I am hoping to appeal to a broad mix of girls as Rose is quite girly but Violet herself is quite a tomboy. Id also like to think that it will be a book that parents will read aloud to their children, and there are some jokes in there that might make them laugh.  
2. I was hooked from the introduction of the characters with the brilliant two-page spread showing them and telling us their favourite foods what gave you the idea for this?
The character of Dee Dee came to me pretty much fully formed and one of her traits was that she didnt eat proper meals; she lived off cake and banana sandwiches and gin probably (but I left out the last bit as it was a childrens book!). And so the idea really expanded from there.

3. And on that note, whats YOUR favourite food?
I do eat scary amounts of chocolate but, like Camille, my favourite food is steak and chips.
4. Did you have a mental picture of Violet and the other characters when you started writing about them? If so, how close were Beckas drawing to how you imagined them? 
Yes I have strong mental pictures of almost all the characters, and Violet is small, feisty, slightly St Trinian's like girl with a big can-do attitude and I think Becka has caught that totally. And she has done a marvellous job too with the other characters - I particularly like the Count and Countess Du Plicitous.
5. I really liked the glossary particularly as there are some challenging words for the target audience in the book! Do you think authors of books for younger children have a responsibility to try and stretch their vocabulary?
Yes I do. I try to include just a few difficult words to stretch the reader a little bit, but not enough to put them off, I hope.
6. Whats next for Harriet Whitehorn? 
Well, the next Violet book is out in March, then the third one is out next August, so I imagine Ill be pretty busy with them. But in between, I am very slowly writing a book for older children - ten to twelve year olds - which I can best describe as Game of Thrones meets Eva Ibbotson! Well see how it turns out.
1. How much guidance do you get from authors or publishers when you’re illustrating a book?

I think it really depends. With ‘Violet’ I was given specific character notes by the author, which really helped me to visualise the world she had penned and get to grips with the different personalities of the characters beforehand.

It has been a similar case with other publishers and authors as well. I really enjoy the collaborative, all-hands-on-deck aspect when working on a book. Guidance comes from all different directions, which allows me as an illustrator to take a step back and see the book from a point of view I may not have considered on my own, which is invaluable. 

2. What was your favourite picture to draw in Violet and the Pearl of the Orient?

Ooh, this is a tough one. I think it’s a toss-up between Dee Dee and Lullabelle the cat lounging on the very posh chaise longue and wearing face masks and the portraits page at the beginning of the book. Although, now I’m thinking about it, I really loved working on the illustration of Violet swinging upside down from the tree as this is the first image I sketched before starting work on the project.

I’m not very good at making decisions, can I have all three please?

3. Your website mentions your book idea for the fabulous-looking Foxtrot, written and illustrated by you. If you’re illustrating your own work, is there a difference in the way you approach it compared to if you’re illustrating work by another author?

I think there is in the sense that I have a firmer image in my mind of how I want certain things to look, because I have already hashed out the character designs in my head when writing the story. When working with another author, it’s exciting to receive the manuscript and discover a new story and it also presents new challenges. Like drawing a field filled with horses, each in a different pose. At least with my own stories, I can choose to not include certain difficult-to-draw objects. But where’s the fun in that?

4. While you now live in Manchester, you got your degree from Glyndwr University in my hometown of Wrexham. Is there anything you miss about studying in North Wales?

I miss that, despite being only an hour down the road, the bus system is completely different. I also miss the stunning St Giles' Church building, which reminded me of something out of the Lord of the Rings. And the giant Wilkinsons.

5. I'm really looking forward to seeing Violet hit the shelves so people can love it as much as I do, but I'm also really excited that you’re working with another author I really love, Clementine Beauvais, on The Royal Babysitters, which is coming from Bloomsbury next month. What can we expect from the series?

You can expect adventure, laughter and madness on a super grand (and slightly insane) scale, led by two sisters, Holly and Anna Burnbright, and the ice-cream obsessed Prince Pepino. It is going to be a really fun series that I think children (and their oldies) will absolutely love.

6. What’s next for Becka Moor?

What’s next is Violet book number two! I have already begun working on the cover for it.

After that, I will be working on a couple of new young fiction series, a picture book or two and I will also be working on my own young fiction story that I started writing not too long ago. There are no horses in the foreseeable future.

Don't miss the rest of the tour, which has some of my favourite blogs on! See the banner on the right for details.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Want To Read But Don't Own Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
1. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - Despite being a big fan of his other books, I've somehow never got round to getting this.

2. Poppy by Mary Hooper - Charli from To Another World was a big fan and this World War I story sounds great.

3. Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings - I could have gone for any of his here, but I think this is his first fantasy? Daphne keeps demanding I read these!

4. The Second Generation by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman - After Leigh Bardugo reminded me of the awesomeness of Dragonlance, I want to reread the Chronicles, and then read some more.

5. Noggin by John Corey Whaley - This book - about a teen whose head is cryogenically frozen and grafted onto a new body five years after his death - sounds fascinating, and was hugely recommended by Jill at TheBookbag.

6. Five Children on The Western Front by Kate Saunders - E Nesbit is one of my all time favourite authors so sequels to her books intrigue me. This sounds like a potentially amazing read.

7. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan - I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this series or not but Sarah read from it at Super Relaxed Fantasy Club a few hours ago and it sounded AMAZING. (She read from book two, but I can't read out of order, so definitely need to start here!)

8. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window by Jonas Jonasson - Me and Charlie went to see the film a few months ago and it was brilliant - I keep meaning to get around to the book but forgetting.

9. The Rain by Virginia Bergin - Because anything described as 'Georgia Nicholson does the apocalypse' intrigues me.

10. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall - College love stories usually get my attention. A college love story told from 14 points of view, including a squirrel? SOLD!

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Top Ten Books People Keep Telling Me To Read Now

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Game of Thrones series by George RR Martin - Rec'd by my dad, Lucy, Daphne, and various others. I'm desperately keen to read them as I love the TV series; however I don't handle long waits for the next book in a series very well so I'm planning on marathoning near the eventual release of the final book (sometime next decade, probably.)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas - I know Debbie, who has really similar taste to me usually, and Stacey, despite not being a big fantasy fan, were both big fans of this, so I should definitely get round to it soon.

Replica by Jack Heath - Not that many people I know seem to have read this but Charlie is a big fan and she has great taste in books!

Everything by David Eddings - Daphne is trying to get me to read more fantasy - I love it but there is SO MUCH I've never read. Eddings is apparently excellent.

Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher - This seemed to be rec'd by EVERYONE at Nineworlds! I have the first, obtained at the brilliant Windsor Firestation book swap, and am moving it up my TBR pile.

The Art of Fielding - I wanted to read this, then didn't, then maybe did so I bought it as it was cheap, then decided perhaps I didn't... but Stacey really likes it and told me I should read it. Plenty of people can sell MG and YA books to me; Stacey is one of the few who can push adult stuff on me to the degree that I feel reasonably confident I'll love it.

Rock War by Robert Muchamore - I had reasons for not reading at one point just after I borrowed it from Debbie, but I should probably get round to it so I can give it her back at some point this year!

Everything by Frances Hardinge - Tom Pollock keeps raving about these to me. Given how brilliant Tom's own books are, that's a good sign!

Any novel by Sarah Rees Brennan - I love her short, The Spy Who Never Grew Up, but have never read any of her novels. Several people, most vociferously Caitlin, tell me I need to rectify this ASAP.

The Rain by Virginia Bergin - I read the first ten pages or so of this yesterday in a bookshop but resisted buying because I have far too many books to read. Talking to Ben and to Imogen Russell Williams yesterday may have convinced me that this was a mistake as it looks brilliant. I don't really do post-apocalyptic, but that voice? Awesome!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Dangerous Boys Blog Tour: Abigail Haas's Casting

Pleased to welcome Abigail Haas to the blog today to talk about her 'dream cast' if her book Dangerous Boys was made into a movie.

Chloe: Shailene Woodley
Chloe needs to have a girl-next-door, quiet vibe at the start of the story, then develop in intensity. Shailene has such a sweetness to her, it would be fascinating to see her tackle the darker aspects of Chloe’s character.

Ethan: Robbie Amell
Ethan is a sweet, down-to-earth guy, and Robbie would capture that perfectly.

Oliver: Theo James
Oliver gets by on charm and manipulation, so I’d love to see a leading man like Theo James dig into the darkness behind that perfect smile. We have to believe Chloe would be tempted by him, and I don’t think anyone would be able to resist Theo.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Various Recommendations - Courting Magic, Violet and the Pearl of the Orient, Flora & Ulysses

(Courting Magic was sent to me by the author, although I then bought it myself because I loved it so much, so I’m not 100% sure whether I technically need to tell you that. Just to be on the safe side, I will! Violet… was sent to me by the publishers. Flora and Ulysses was bought from Foyles.)

 Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis (Historical fantasy, beyond very highly recommended, Five Fathoms Press)

Regular readers of my reviews know how much I love the Kat Stephenson books - witch/Guardian Kat herself is perhaps my all-time favourite heroine, while the characters who surround her are each brilliantly portrayed. To say I was excited for the release of this novella, which sees Kat at eighteen and ready to make her debut in society, is something of an understatement. But while I knew it would be amazing, I'm not sure I was prepared for it to be THIS amazing!

The story sees Kat's sisters try to introduce her to high society only for a task given to her by the head of the Guardians, an unsuitable love interest, and an old friend with issues of her own, get in the way. It's a clever plot and an exciting story, but the real strength is that Kat still has the best voice of any narrator for years, and she's just as vivacious and exciting a character now as she was in the superb original trilogy. Despite her age this is still suitable for the MG readers who the first three books were aimed at - there's off the charts chemistry between Kat and her love interest, but nothing explicit, just really amazing romance to add to the book's other great points. Speaking of relationships, the bond between Kat and her sisters, as they drive each other crazy at times but are clearly absolutely devoted to each other, is still one of the many highlights of the book.

I'm not sure how well it will work for people who've not read the original three, but really, why on earth WOULDN'T you have read the originals, as they're one of the best MG series of the past few decades? (Susie Day's Pea's Book being their only real challenger for me.) If you've not read them, grab them all as soon as possible, and I'm confident you'll fall in love with them and be desperate to read this one. If you have read them, I sincerely doubt that you need me to tell you that this is a must-buy!

Violet and the Pearl of the Orient by Harriet Whitehorn (author) and Becka Moor (illustrator) (7+ mystery, very highly recommended, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books)

The new family who’ve moved in next door to Violet Remy-Robinson seem rather odd. No-one else can see this, but she’s convinced they’re up to no good – and when neighbour Dee Dee Derota has a precious jewel stolen, Violet is sure they’re to blame! Can she uncover the truth and save the day?

I've been looking forward to this ever since meeting author Harriet Whitehorn a few months ago at another author's book launch, so when it arrived this morning I decided to read the first few pages to see if it looked like it would live up to my expectations. I was completely hooked by the double page spread on pages 8 and 9 which introduce us to all of the characters by telling us their favourite food, and which proves to be a perfect way to show us Harriet Whitehorn's sense of humour and Becka Moor's completely gorgeous two-colour illlustrations. It will surprise precisely no-one who knows me that my initial ‘few pages’ turned into reading the entire book straight through then spending twenty minutes going back and looking at my favourite pictures again. (I only missed three buses…)

Throughout the book the two creators are a perfect match for each other - it's a well-told story with a good plot and great characters, but Moor's artwork adds so much to the book, especially in the way she makes the villains looks so horrible.

Even though this is aimed at a slightly younger age range than the Sesame Seade books, it reminds me of them a lot – a great heroine, an intriguing mystery, and brilliant use of language. (I particularly liked the glossary at the back of the book to introduce readers to words they may be unfamiliar with.) It’s also absolutely beautifully published – it’s a gorgeous small hardback which is up there with Wild Boy and the Black Terror (another fabulous mystery, although one aimed at children a few years older than the target audience here!) as the best-looking book on my shelves. I think the sheer quality of the production here will mean it’s got great appeal to slightly older readers than the target audience, as well – I can see younger secondary pupils picking this up because of how stunning it looks; I’ve already recommended it to my mum, who works in the English department of a secondary school, as being a brilliant way to get reluctant readers hooked on a series thanks to the beauty of the book, the pictures, and the inclusion of some challenging words with the aforementioned glossary.

Hugely recommended, there’s about six months until the next book in the series and I’ll be counting down the days! (Although fans of Becka Moor’s wonderful artwork can get more rather sooner than that as she’s teaming with Sesame Seade author Clementine Beauvais for The Royal Babysitters, which features windsurfing starfish, sextuplet toddler princes, and hummingbird cannons, and is out from Bloomsbury next month.)

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (author) and KG Campbell (illustrator) (MG superhero awesomeness, very highly recommended, Walker)

When an unremarkable squirrel is hoovered up by an out of control vacuum cleaner, Flora Belle Buckman steps in to save him. But the mysterious accident has given him a new life, with super-strength, flight, and the ability to write poetry. As the duo start to make friends, Flora discovers happiness - but every superhero needs a nemesis. Will the pair be cruelly separated?

I’ve been meaning to get this for ages after reading a fab review of it from Tanja on The Bookbag and finally got round to it a few weeks ago when I visited Foyles on Jennifer Bell’s last day working there and asked her to recommend me something. (Psst – speaking of Jennifer Bell, you’re all as excited as I am about Ivy Sparrow, out next year from Random House, yeah?)

She told me this was one of the best children’s books she’d read in recent years and since she has amazingly good taste in books, I had to get it. Of course, that DID raise my expectations even higher, but I’m pleased to say that this absolutely exceeded them! Told partly in prose and partly as a comic strip, this is completely and utterly wonderful. To quote comic-book fan Flora herself, ‘Holy Bagumba!’, this is a heck of a read.

Flora herself, cynical, jaded, and upset with her parents, is a really sympathetic main character, while the superhero squirrel is absolutely adorable, as is his poetry. I thought all of the characters here were excellent, though – perhaps especially the ‘villain’ here, who on the one hand is a formidable antagonist but on the other hand clearly has good intentions deep down. It’s an utterly and completely heart-warming read which completely deserves all of the praise it’s getting.