Hello everybody! Today, I’m really excited to be interviewing Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai as part of the blog tour for their debut, The House on Hoarder Hill. Onto the post!
Hello everybody! Today, I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for Anna Hoghton’s wonderful debut, the Mask of Aribella. Onto the post, which is is written by Anna and is about one of the most wonderful parts of this book!
As you’ll see from the acknowledgments section of ‘The Mask of Aribella’, friends are extremely important to me. I couldn’t have made it through a lot of the hurdles in my life without them. Just as with my main character, Aribella, my friends have given me the strength to believe in myself and keep on fighting, even when the world seemed dark.
It took me a while to find friends who I could trust with my whole heart. When I was growing up, I remember spending a lot of time trying to fit in with certain people and feeling upset when I didn’t quite make the mould. I met a fair few bullies along the way and, as vulnerability is seen as weakness when you are a teenager, I often felt isolated. It took me a good few years to re-find confidence after those early experiences, and I revisited those old feelings whilst writing this book. I think that, even if you weren’t bullied growing up, everyone knows how it is to feel left out and like you don’t quite fit in anywhere.
At the start of the book, although brave and kind, Aribella lacks in confidence and is desperate to just disappear into the background. However, she sticks out because she’s different – just how different, she’s about to find out. But she soon learns that being different isn’t a weakness but strength, and that the secret of being a misfit is that ‘you’re never the only one’. Indeed, personally I credit all the times I felt like an outsider when I was younger as the spark that lit me up for everything I’ve managed to do and be as an adult. My logic became very much: if you won’t let me sit at your table, then I will build my own. And, when you start thinking and living like that, you meet other table builders, who invariably turn out to be the most interesting, wonderful and fantastic friends than you ever could have hoped for. Children’s books helped teach me that the best friendships are often the unlikely ones, the ones that spring up from nowhere, between people who, perhaps at first, appear entirely unsuitable for one another, like Charlotte and Wilbur, Frodo and Sam, Lyra and Will, and even Harry, Ron and Hermione, who start off at odds. Sometimes these friends seem to come from entirely different worlds at first. My best friend is my husband, Chris, he’s from California and has always been the Will to my Lyra. But these friendships between people who celebrate their differences rather than try to be the same are the sorts that grab hold and don’t let go; that can be counted on and trusted in completely.
These are indeed the sorts of friendships that Aribella finds. Among her friends there is Seffie, a wild-hearted, impulsive and mischievous girl, who is loosely based on my oldest friend, Katie – who was always a little wild and fierce in the best possible way. Fin is earnest and book-loving, as the best people I’ve met often are. And then there is Theo, whose loyalty knows no bounds and who will courageously look out for Aribella and others, even if it means putting himself in danger. I’ve been lucky enough to have now met many Seffies, Fins and Theos in my life and to get to call a great deal of them my friends. Making true friends came from leaving my comfort zone, giving up on trying to be like the people around me and, instead, showing the world my true self. It also, importantly, came from being a good friend in return and Aribella, though she makes mistakes, ultimately proves herself to be loyal and there for her friends until the end.
‘The Mask of Aribella’ is full of superpowers but the most important one of all isn’t talking to animals, walking through walls, or making flames come out of your fingertips; it is the power of friendship and this is the magic that helps Aribella find the courage to believe in herself and fight the darkness that is unmasked in the final chapters. Just like all our true friendships help us find our own strength, no matter what we face.
The Mask of Aribella by Anna Hoghton is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)
Are you planning to read this book? Who are your favourite friendships in fiction? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Hello everybody! Today, I’m very excited to be part of the blog tour for the wonderful the Pearl in the Ice by Cathryn Constable, and even more excited that I get to share one of my favourite extracts with you! Onto the post!
‘Here you are talking to me, and not bothering to introduce yourself!’ Miss Smith’s face twitched in Amusement.
‘I am Miss Marina Annabel Denham.’ Marina gushed. ‘How do you do, Miss Smith.’ Marina shook the woman’s hand.
‘Very well, as you were kind enough to ask. Although a little hot. I had to rush from the office.’. Marina sighed in admiration.
‘Oh, I want a paid occupation when I grow up, but my father wants me to get married and arrange flowers and write out menus for the cook and see that the coal merchant gets paid, and a whole lot of other boring rot. I ask you!’ Marina tried out the snort of derision she had been practising on Edward all summer.
‘Urgh.’ Miss Smith shuddered. ‘In other words, he wants you to be that ghastly thing: a young lady. Which is about as appealing to a bright girl as being a plate of chopped liver. But not as useful! And no doubt your father thinks this is what will be best for you?’ Miss Smith raised one eyebrow. Marina nodded. Miss Smith flared her nostrils. Marina copied her but it made her sneeze.
‘I wonder, have you told him how you feel? Perhaps if he understood how you wish to make your own life rather than have one handed to you, he might let you choose how you spend this one miraculous existence you have been given?’
‘It’s hard to explain to him,’ Marina said, quietly. Her father did have a remarkable ability to silence her. Not by shouting; not even by not listening. He would simply nod slowly and then change the subject. Even Edward had not believed her when she said she was determined to choose her own path in the world.
‘I’m sure you’ll do whatever you want,’ he’d said. ‘But have you really thought about how difficult it will be?’
‘What do you mean?’ she’d asked.
‘Well . . . Who will look after your babies?’
‘Why is that my job?’
‘Just saying . . . Babies tend to be quite fond of their mothers. Even though Maudie is five and should be happy to be with our nanny, she won’t leave Mother’s side for a second. And mother can’t stand the crying so she lets her stay.’
‘Maybe babies should be trained to be fond of their fathers!’
Edward had looked sceptical. ‘Good luck with that, Marina.’
Marina looked at the young woman in front of her, who had so far resisted the lure of motherhood and the dreaded fate of being a ‘young lady’, and was working in the real world, not seated on a velvet-upholstered chair in a parlour waiting for her husband to come home and tell her what had happened in the world beyond the room’s four walls.
‘But what do you do? For your job?’ Marina felt as if Miss Smith might have some secret which she must discover if she were ever to choose her own life.
Miss Smith put her head on one side. ‘Let’s see. I write reports. I file memoranda. I check the communiqués coming into the Admiralty. I am very good at what I do. I have to be. There are many men there who do not believe a woman can spell, let alone compose reports! My work is not very interesting, perhaps, but it’s the life I chose. It’s mine and no one else’s. And it does have its charms. Today, for instance, I am not sitting in the office trying to fit a complicated naval problem into a cablegram of fifty words. Instead, I am travelling incognito to Portsmouth on important Admiralty business.’ She glanced at her leather portmanteau.
‘I have to give last-minute orders to one of our men, who is sailing deep into Mordavian waters. As you can imagine, such orders are too sensitive, in the current climate, to send by cable.’ She leant forward and whispered,
‘There are spies everywhere. I can’t risk these instructions being intercepted.’ She put her finger to her mouth, signalling that she had just told Marina something of great importance. ‘Please don’t give me away!’ She winked and smiled her dimply smile. ‘But as you are the daughter of Commander Denham, who is known to keep so much to himself, I feel I can trust you.’
Are you planning to pick this book up? What do you think of the characters from the extract? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Hello everybody! Today, I’m very excited to be part of the blog tour for Invisible in a Bright Light, which is Sally Gardner’s first MG book in 14 years. I have to admit I’ve mot actually read I, Coriander but I most definitely want to, particularly given that I read one of her other books just after my brain surgery and therefore have quite special memories of it. Anyway, onto the post!
Hello everybody! Today, I’m really excited to be part of the blog tour for the International Yeti Collective, and for my post I’m going to be sharing some information about the book AND an exclusive illustration from it by Katy Riddell. Onto the post!
Hello everybody! Today, I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for Victoria Williamson’s second book, the Boy with the Butterfly Mind. Onto the post!
Hello everybody! Today, I’m really excited to be part of the blog tour for the newest addition to the Ganster School series, Gruffles and the Killer Sheep, with my review! Onto the post!