The Eye of the North Blog Tour: Author Interview with Sinéad O’ Hart

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the Eye of the North, a fabulous new middle grade which is released this Thursday (you can read my review here) by interviewing it’s lovely author Sinéad. Onto the questions!

1. Can you please describe the Eye of the North in 5 words?

Exciting, friendship, secrets, scary creatures!

2. What inspired the book?

I got the ‘seed’ idea for The Eye of the North when I was about 21 (a.k.a a very long time ago), and I was working in an office job I really did not enjoy. I came up with a story about a girl named Emma Marvell working in an office job she really did not enjoy – that bit didn’t take much imagining – but her job involved the recording and cataloguing of artefacts relating to mysterious, mythical creatures which were sent in from all over the world by a team of roving explorers. (My job wasn’t half so interesting.) In the proto-story, when an explorer sends in a sample with a dodgy covering letter, Emma gets curious as to what he’s hiding and goes on the hunt to find out the truth. The published version is very different, but the core elements – mythical creatures, the North, a plucky girl and a stowaway boy – were there from the beginning. I have always loved mythical creatures and I’ve been fascinated with the polar regions all my life, so this story has been a long time brewing.

3. I saw lots of similarities between Emmeline and I. Which book characters would you say you`re most like?

I think I see bits of me in Arianwyn Gribble from James Nicol’s Apprentice Witch series, mostly in her serious and slightly worried/responsible approach to things, and in Hermione Granger (I am a bit of a swot), though the Potter character I’m most like, I think, is Ron – food-focused, loyal and a bit afraid of most things. I’m clumsy like Mildred Hubble, stubborn like Lyra Silvertongue, and I’m a hobbit all the way down to my toes (though luckily, they’re not as hairy!)

4. I also adored her sidekicks Thing and Meadowmane. Do you have any favourite literary sidekicks?

Siddy from Abi Elphinstone’s Dreamsnatcher trilogy always made me grin. I love all the kids in Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer, though I don’t think any can really be classed as a sidekick! Of course, the brilliant Malkin in Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart books is a sidekick we all need. The best hero/sidekick team in literature , though, is Pidge and Brigit from The Hounds of The Morrigan. I wish I had a Brigit to this day.

5. The adventure in the book is incredible. If you could choose any adventure, real or fictional, to take part in, what would it be?

Because I trained as a medievalist in another life, I feel I must say I wish I could have been a pilgrim on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I think I would have enjoyed an ale or two with the raucous, brilliant Wife of Bath! I would have loved to take part in a polar expedition, too – perhaps Scott’s, except without the tragedy. And of course I would have loved to see the battle between Iorek Byrnison and Ragnar Sturlusson alongside Lyra and Pan.

6. The book also reads like it would make a fabulous film. If it was ever optioned, do you have a dream cast?

What a brilliant question! I think Ruth Negga would make a fab Sasha, and Oscar Isaac would be my choice for Edgar. I would love Dominic Monaghan for Mr Widget and Sophie Okonedo for Mrs Widget. As for the children – I think finding some new, undiscovered talent would be great!

7. This is your debut novel. What has been the standout moment of your journey to publication, and what are you most excited about after the book comes out?

The standout moment, for sure, was the day my agent phoned to tell me she had sold the book to my UK publisher, Stripes. We had been waiting so long for a UK/Irish deal that I had given up hope of ever getting one, and so that was a true joy. It has been a very long path, and there have been many highlights, but that’s my favourite one. As for what I’m most excited by – I can’t wait to meet readers, interact with people who have read the book, and talk about it with children. It’s such a privilege to write for young readers; they are the best readers. I’m hugely looking forward to learning from them and finding out how I can keep improving as a writer.

8. Finally, before our quickfire questions, can you divulge any secrets about what your second book might be?

The second book I have sold is the story of Tess, who has grown up with no knowledge of her parentage until the day a stranger comes to claim her from the loving home she has always known. She has to uncover who this man is, what he knows about her and her past, and how to get out of his clutches, all before he can use her unique abilities to bring destruction to her world, and many others… (Also, she has a pet tarantula called Violet, who is the real star of the show.)

QUICKFIRE

1. Hogwarts house? Ravenpuff? I am mostly Ravenclaw, a bit Hufflepuff!

2. Favourite chocolate bar? Plain and simple, Cadbury Dairy Milk

3. Favourite colour? Purple.

4. Top 3 books of 2017? The Huntress: Sky; The Explorer; A Skinful Of Shadows.

5. 3 random facts about you? I can read Middle English (and Old English, with a bit of practise); I used to work as a trainee butcher and could pick up a pound of mince, almost to the ounce, simply by eye; I have a fear of balloons

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the interview down in the comments or or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

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I Swapped My Brother on the Internet Blog Tour- Jo Simmons on Funny Fiction 

Hello everybody!

Today, I have a guest post from Jo Simmons all about funny books as part of her blog tour for her own VERY funny book which I really enjoyed (and will be reviewing in my January Reviews!)

I’m not often sure what I think about anything. Age has not brought wisdom, just a sense of bafflement and a love of early bed times. But I do know what I think about funny fiction for kids – I think it’s a really, really good thing.

Not all kids are hardwired to read, but most kids are hardwired to laugh. They laugh so much more than adults – 300 to 400 times a day apparently, while grownups manage about 15 times. This makes children a willing audience for funny fiction. In fact, I’d argue that they positively deserve it!

I remember devouring Spike Milligan, Ogden Nash poems and PG Wodehouse as I went into my teenage years. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy dazzled with its cast of curious intergalactic characters and the hilarious fictional small ads in the copies of Viz my brother passed me were just brilliant. That and the Fat Slags, of course.

Once I had my own two boys, I was impressed by their ability to laugh their way through a day and unimpressed by the unutterably dull books I sometimes found myself reading to them at bedtime. So when I sat down to write my first children’s book in 2010, I wasn’t sure what to write, but I knew anything I did write had to be funny.

Funny fiction does so much more than simply entertain. Humour can tempt even a reluctant reader to try another chapter and every time an author makes a child laugh, it’s a little victory for reading. They’re communicating the message that reading funny books is fun, therefore reading must be fun. 

So it’s annoying that funny fiction sometimes gets overshadowed by those heavy books that tackle issues and win prizes, as if a witty story cannot also have meaning or relevance. Writing funny does not mean compromising on narrative ambition. A good funny story is still just that – a story – and can deliver all the truths and meaningful moments a serious tale does. 

My books contain plenty of bonkers scenarios and freaky folk, but also touch on issues relevant to children: friendship problems, anxiety about change, fear of the dark, loss of a loved one and, in my latest, I Swapped My Brother on the Internet the frustration of being inferior in age and privileges to an older brother. Serious stuff, for sure, but all wrapped up in a thick coating of silliness and escapism, ghosts, merboys and doppelgangers, and some seriously grotty pants. Maybe not great art, but hopefully great fun. 

You can follow Jo on Twitter @joanna_simmons and the book’s illustrator Nathan @nathanreed_illo.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite funny books? Did you love this one? I’d love to hear from you down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx 

Blog Tour Review: Curse of the Werewolf Boy Chris Preistly

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m very excited to be part of the blog tour for Curse of the Werewolf Boy by Chris Preistly. Thank you to Faye and Bloomsbury for asking me to be part of it!


Onto the review 😊 


In this book, Chris Preistly tells the story of Mildew and Sponge as they set about solving some unusual mysteries at their boarding school Maudlin Towers, the most important of which is the disappearance of the school spoon. 

It was absolutely madcap and worked really well as a spoof on classic boarding school stories. I liked Chris Priestly’s own illustrations throughout as they often
helped me visualise certain parts of the story, and his dry, witty narrative voice. 
I also enjoyed the characters. I loved the banter between Mildew and Sponge especially, and their conversations with the other boys they live with. A lotof the teachers were really fun too. I particularly liked Mr Luckless and Mr Stupendo.

The mysteries were silly, and quite sweet, but I actually didn’t see a couple  of the reveals I predicted, and I think this would be an excellent starter mystery for younger readers. I really loved the time travelling section of the book where Mildew and Sponge venture to the future, and I also liked the ending. 

I did find this a bit slow paced in places and not all of the jokes appealed to my personal sense of humour, but it’s definetely one to look out for next Halloween if you enjoy time travelling adventures. 

ABOUT THE BOOK 

Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom¬laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!

But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What’s their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?

Hugely funny, deliciously creepy and action-packed by turns, this brand new series from Chris Priestley is perfect for 8+ readers who like their mysteries with a bit of bite. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell will love Curse of the Werewolf Boy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Ever since he was a teenager, Chris has loved unsettling and creepy stories. He has fond memories of buying comics like Strange Tales and House of Mystery, watching classic BBC TV adaptations of M.R. James’ ghost stories every Christmas and reading assorted weirdness by everyone from Edgar Allan Poe to Ray Bradbury. He hopes his books will haunt his readers in the way those writers have haunted him.

Website: http://www.chrispriestleybooks.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/crispriestley 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chrispriestleywriter/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christopherpriestley/

Thank you for reading? What did you think of this book? Who were your favourite characters? 

See you soon with a new post, 

Amy xxx 


Blog Tour: Lari Don’s Favourite Myths

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m incredibly excited to welcome Lari Don as part of her blog tour for the phenomenal Spellchasers trilogy. I hope you’ll enjoy reading her post as much as I did!


I love the old stories. I love myths, legends, fairy tales and folktales. I love them so much I want to rub them with my sleeve and make them shiny and new (just like Aladdin’s lamp…) 

I try to make them new in two ways:

I retell them, out loud to audiences and in books. When I retell traditional tales, I quite openly tweak or change or rip them apart (because oral stories have always been changed by storytellers, that’s how they evolve.) 

I also make the old stories new by taking little snippets of magic and monsters and bouncing off them to create fictional adventures of my own. 

As a child, I loved dragon stories. Dragons are the perfect magical monster. The size! The fire! The teeth! The wings! And there are dragon stories from all over the world, so you can travel round the globe from dragon tale to dragon tale. 

Favourite dragon story: The Laidly Wyrm (from North of England, about a girl who is cursed to turn into a dragon) 

The first connected series of stories I discovered were the Greek myths, with all that family drama, and all those wonderful creatures like centaurs and minotaurs, which made me want to create my own mix and match monsters with scissors and glue…

Favourite Greek myth: Theseus and the Minotaur (how to defeat the monster in the maze)

I also grew up loving shapeshifter stories, because Scottish folklore is filled with shapeshifters, like the kelpie (an underwater monster who can become human or horse to lure children to the water) and the selkie (who can be human or seal, and is often forced to stay on land when an unscrupulous fisherman hides her sealskin) 

Favourite shapeshifter story: The Tale of Tam Linn (from the Scottish Borders, about a boy stolen by the Fairy Queen) 

As I read more widely, I fell in love with the Viking myths. These are the myths that speak to me most clearly, possibly because they’re set in harsh rocky winter, rather than Mediterranean sunlight. I love the stories of Fenrir the wolf, Kara the Swan Warrior, and Ragnar Shaggy-Breeks. 

Favourite Viking myth: The Death of Baldur (the story I tell most often to 11 year olds…) 

I’m always searching for my favourite stories of all: stories with strong female protagonists. My quest for girls who defeat their own monsters has so far led me to Inanna the Sumerian goddess of love and war, to Nana Miriam the Nigerian girl who defeated a fire-breathing hippo, to Chi the Chinese girl who defeated a seven-headed dragon, and to many more… 

Favourite heroine story: Tale of Tam Linn again! (Because the Scottish boy who was stolen by the fairy queen, was saved by a girl called Janet)

All these traditional tales inspire my adventure novels. For example, there are dragons, centaurs and minotaurs in the Fabled Beast Chronicles. 

And my new Spellchasers trilogy is filled with shapeshifters, with characters who relish their power to change into horses and crows, and characters who are trapped as toads and hares. The biggest villain in the trilogy is inspired by a mix of Sumerian and Egyptian mythology, and the curse-lifting workshop at the heart of the book has a sphinx as a pupil.

And all my adventure books contain strong girls (as well as strong boys, and intermittently useful magical animals…) 

I love the old stories. I love writing new stories inspired by the magic of the old tales. And when the new stories are written, I settle back down and lose myself in the old stories again. I wonder what story I will rub with my ragged sleeve next… 

About the Author


Lari Don is a full-time children’s writer and storyteller. She grew up in the North East of Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh. She writes in her garden shed, helped by purring cats and hindered by lurking spiders. Lari has written more than 20 books, including adventure novels, picture books and retellings of traditional tales.  She can be found on Twitter @LariDonWriter or at http://www.laridon.co.uk

The Spellchasers trilogy is available and out now.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite myths? Do you love retellings of them? What are your favourites? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Amy xxx

BLOG TOUR: Firelines by Cara Thurlbourn Spotlight

Hello everybody!

Today I’m part of the blog tour for Firelines by Cara Thurlbourn, and I’m going to be giving you some information about the book and Cara herself.

Let’s get started!

SYNOPSIS
WHEN YOUR BLOOD LINE AWAKENS, HOW DO YOU CHOOSE BETWEEN FAMILY AND FREEDOM?
Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.
 
Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

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

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

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

BOOK INFO

Release Date: 26th September 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Bewick Press

Format: Paperback

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35581157-fire-lines 

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fire-Lines-Cara-Thurlbourn-ebook/dp/B075FTR12K

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear what you thought of this book in the comments!

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx