AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Cathy Hopkins 

​Hello everybody!


Today I couldn`t be any more thrilled to welcome a very special author for an interview.  Cathy`s books were some of my favourites when I was young, and after reading and loving them, I got in touch and still chat regularly via Skype and email . Her book, A Home for Shimmer, is based on my dog Shimmer and book Shimmer has many traits of the real one, which was incredible to read! I`m definitely planning to dip into Cathy`s new book for adults, Kicking the Bucket List, at some point.

Let`s get onto the interview!
1. Can you describe Kicking the Bucket List in 5 words? 

Funny, sad, tale of sisters.


2. What is your writing process like? Do you have any unusual or quirky habits as a writer?

I don’t write on one place, I do have an office but I often change rooms depending on
where feels right that day.

3. Kicking the Bucket List is about a mum leaving behind a `bucket list` full of tasks for her daughters to complete. Do you have a bucket list? What are the items you`d most like to complete from it?

I’d like to go and see meerkats. Visit Sicily. Learn how to cook Italian food. Paint
portraits of some of the people I know.

4. My favourite series of yours has to be Mates, Dates. The characters all so vibrant and also huge fun! What do you think they`d be up to now? 
They’d still be friends. I reckon TJ and Nesta would be university, Lucy doing a 
fashion design course, Izzie at art college. Perhaps they’d share a flat, if not they’d still be in touch and having a great life and would always meet up in the college holidays.

5. Another series I loved, which I barely ever see mentioned, was Zodiac Girls. What gave you the idea for the series? Which of the star sign guardians would you most want to help you, if you got to choose? Do you wish you`d been able to write a book for all 12 star signs?

I was asked to come up with a series about the Zodiac and I thought it would be fun to envisage a world where the planets were all present here on earth in human form. I’d like Jupiter to give a helping hand as it is the planet of expansion and generosity. I reckon Venus would be fun to meet as it is the planet of love and beauty. And Uranus is the planet of surprises and always brings about the unexpected. Yes, it would have been good to write the books for the star signs I didn’t do. I had ideas for them but the publishers changed hands and the new team didn’t commission the last 4 books in the series.

5. Million Dollar Mates is a really fun idea too, where Jess gets to go and live among celebrities. Which 3 celebrities would you most like to live next door to?

David Attenborough because I think he’s an inspiration and has done so much to bring about an awareness of how wonderful nature is into our homes. Colin Farrell so I could look at him out the window. Joanna Lumley because I think she’d be fun and a considerate neighbour.

6. If you could choose any of your books/series to become a TV show or movie, which would you choose and why?

The Kicking the Bucket List because there are 6 great roles for older actresses and I think it would make a very entertaining, feel good film.

7. Finally before the quickfire round, what`s been your favourite moment (or top 3) in your career as author?

Meeting my agents. I’ve been very lucky to find two people who are so encouraging and also great fun to spend time with. Meeting my editors Brenda Gardner then later Kate Bradley. They are both very supportive and are great communicators. Brenda pretty well changed my life as she commissioned the first Mates Dates books and got my career as a teenage fiction writer started. More recently, Kate contracted for my first adult book and so a new chapter of my career has begun. Reading some of the reviews for books and hearing that people are reading and enjoying what I’ve written. 

QUICKFIRE

Favourite season of the year? Summer.

Favourite cake flavour? Coffee and walnut (though am not a cake person, I prefer savoury)

Hogwarts house? Hufflepuff.

Favourite couple on Strictly this year? Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton. Doubt if they’ll win but I like her.

Favourite 3 books of 2017?– Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker. How Hard Can it be Allison Pearson. A Scandalous Affair, the Biography of Jane Digby by Mary.S. Lovell. 

Huge thanks again to Cathy for this interview! Which of Cathy’s books are your favourites? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

See you soon with a new post

Amy xxx

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Childhood Books/Series

Hello everyone!

Today I’m taking part in the Top Ten Tuesday meme, hosted over at the Broke and the Bookish

Today’s theme is a Throwback freebie, so I decided to talk about some books I loved when I was younger. As there is a little bit of an overlap in theme with my Books Which Made Me a Reader post, I’m only going to mention a few of those here so this is bit different! (Unsurpisingly, once I started thinking I got really indecisive and have ended up with slightly more than 10, and that’s the main reason why I’m not talking about many of the books on my other list)

Let’s get started! 😊

MY SISTER THE VAMPIRE by Sienna Mercer- This is a FABULOUS open-ended series aimed at 9+ (currently 18 books long) about Ivy (a vampire) and Olivia (a human) as they dicover they’re long lost twins, and set about solving the mysteries of their past. I’m really overdue a reread of these; especially since I haven’t yet got round to the latest! The first 10 especially are exceptionally good.

TOTALLY LUCY and RAINBOW BEAUTY by Kelly McKain-  Kelly McKain was one of my very favourite authors when I was younger. Totally Lucy is about a girl called Lucy (shockingly 😱) and her ambitions to be a fashion designer and her friendships and romantic mishaps. They’re in diary format, quite silly and funny and also slightly predictable as you get further on, but they’re a lot of fun.

Rainbow Beauty, aimed at slightly older readers, is about Abbie as her family is shattered and she and her mum/sisters move to Devon to start up a beauty parlour and try and make their lives good again. This is a gorgeous series; the first 2 books are brilliant summery reads and the 3rd, Blueberry Wishes, is totally perfect to get you in the mood for Autumn. 

MALORY TOWERS/FIVE FIND-OUTERS by Enid Blyton- I am a massive fan of Enid Blyton (despite a librarian once trying to tell me I shouldn’t be 😑) and these two series are my favourites. Even though I enjoyed the Famous Five books, I think that the Five Find Outers are far superior, and vastly underrated! They’re fabulously plotted mysteries and the characters (particularly Fatty) are absolutely hilarious.

Malory Towers is much better known, and they are about Darrell as she starts Malory Towers (and Pamela Cox has written 6 books about her little suster Felicity’s time at the school too). They’re absolutely excellent!


MY LIFE STARRING MUM by Chloe Rayban-
 compared with my last choices, this book isn’t very famous. It’s about Holly, who just wants to be a regular girl, but isn’t able to because her mum is world famous popstar Khandi. I reread this fairly recently and didn’t love it too much at all, but when I was young it was my go to funny book.

SCARLETT by Cathy Cassidy– I’m still a huge Cathy Cassidy fan now, especially of the Chocolate Box Girls series, but Scarlett was by far my favourite book of hers growing up. It’s the story of misfit troublemaker Scarlett as she moves in with her estranged dad and his new family in Ireland and what happens when she meets the gorgeous Kian at the local lough. This book is still really wonderful when I reread, and I highly recommend it for the hilarious scenes, the touching ones, and the portrayal of complicated but loving family relationships.

SECRET BREAKERS by HL Dennis- Even though I actually didn’t like this series when I first read it, I grew to adore it. I always describe these as mysteries that aren’t about who dun it or how, it’s about what it means. The 6 book series (which is incredibly well paced) tells the story of ‘Team Veritas’ a team if children and talented ex code crackers as they come together to try and work out the contents of the Voynich Manuscript. The charcaters are all super lovable (my personal favourite is Hunter, who is just delightful) and the mystery keeps you reading even though the chapters/books are quite chunky.

PONY CLUB SECRETS by Stacy Gregg- I adore this series about Issie and her dreams of equestrian superstardom as she grows up in New Zealand, and my love grows even deeper with every reread. This is the series that I was most excited about new releases in (I used to read them the day I got my hands on them) and it features one of my favourite romances of all time with Issie and Aidan 😍

THE 39 CLUES by various authors- I’m not sure why barely anyone has heard of this series, but I would love for everyone to read it! They’re very clever, and are about a family searching for clues that lead to a prize which will make them the most powerful people on earth, and this hunt is linked with their ancestors (who in this alternate world are all members of different branches of the Cahill family). I can’t shout enough about these; if you can, please do read them and come fangirl with me!

MATES, DATES by Cathy Hopkins- This is the 1st teen series I read (even though I was probably too young 😂) and I adored them. They’re about the friendships, relationships and family troubles of a group of four girls in North London, and they’re really addictive and fun. I got in touch with Cathy after reading them and she’s now a family friend, and the dog in one of her latest releases a Home for Shimmer is actually based on and named after mine!

ALLYS WORLD by Karen McCombie- These books, which are some of the funniest I’ve ever read, are about Ally Love, who feels like the only normal one in her chaotic family. I adored these books so much that I went to see Karen at the Edinburgh Book Festival and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. I’ve now read almost all of her books (except for a few now out of print and most of her Barrington Stoke titles),  but Ally’s World will always be my favourite (Stella Etc also holds a very special place in my heart)

ADVENTURE ISLAND by Helen Moss- To finish, I want to talk about this series, which I always describe as having changed my life. This blog almost certainly wouldn’t exist without them; they rescued me when I was falling out of love with reading, and they were what made me start reviewing books too. They’re about brothers Scott and Jack being forced to go to Cornwall for a summer holiday (in the 1st books at least, in later ones they’re desperate to get there!) and them solving mind-boggling mysteries with their new friend Emily and her dog Drift. These are truly modern day Enid Blyton style mysteries, and in my opinion, might even be better. I’m also lucky enough to know Helen herself (and have met up for a day of bookish goodness, where she introduced me to another book I absolutely loved; Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear about your favourite childrood reads in the comments below! 

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx

Exploration of Creation: The Books Which Made Me a Reader 

Hi everyone!

Today’s post is by my lovely friend Katie, who blogs over at Exploration of Creation. Over to her fabulous post now! 

Amy xxx


I have loved reading (and writing) books since I was in primary school – reading a good book has always felt like escapism to me, especially in tougher times, and some of the books we read as children really do shape us into the readers, and people, that we become as teens and adults.

 Here are the ones that have made me the bookworm that I am today.

Daisy Meadows’s Rainbow Magic series

This is probably the book series that I remember most clearly from primary school. The first ever book was called “Ruby the Red Fairy” and it followed best friends Rachel and Kirsty who meet on holiday and discover a whole magical world of fairies together. Okay, okay, it sounds a bit silly now, but I can actually remember acting the books out with my best friend in the school playground. They really inspired my imagination – and I still enjoy reading fantasy, especially female-centric, to this day.

Lucy Daniels’s Animal Ark series

My primary school library had about fifty of these books, and I’m pretty sure I read every single one in the seven years I was there. These books gave real voices and responsibility to the children characters (often the adults were far less sensible/kind). It also really taught about animal welfare and being kind to domestic & wild animals. I think this book really engaged me in books about good people, good deeds and on-going series. 

Jacqueline Wilson’s Girls Out Late

This was one of the first books I read as a young teenager (possibly read it slightly too young, which I’ve been doing all my life, and now read technically “too young” as a 20 year old reading YA). There are so many Jacqueline Wilson books I remember and loved – KISS, Candy Floss, Cookie, Lola Rose, The Illustrated Mum, Best Friends, Vicky Angel. Girls Out Late was one of the first times I read a book about teenage girls, in first relationships, struggling with female friendship and body issues and betrayals. I really think Jacqueline Wilson needs commending for writing the books that she does, for young teens, never once insulting them by shying away from tough topics, instead always shining a spotlight on them.

Cathy Hopkins’s Mates, Dates series

These were probably the best books I read as a teenager. I adored them. Again, similarly to Jacqueline Wilson’s books, they tackled really tough, relevant teen topics, like body image, cheating and friendship. My favourite thing about the series was that last one; the female friendship in this series was strong, a constant topic of focus – something great for teenage girls to be reading about. 

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

This book was really the book that got me back into reading at around the point I was in sixth form, after quite a dry spell, reading-wise. I read it and it honestly had such an emotional impact on me that it spurred me on to begin exploring YA properly. I think it was perhaps so influential for me because it focuses on cancer, which is hugely significant to me and my family life. It is, to this day, one of my favourite books in the entire world.

J
.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
Okay, so this has to be, hands down, the books that made me a reader. That’s why I saved it until last. I can’t remember the exact age I was when I read The Philosopher’s Stone for the very first time, but I know I have reread the entire series every single summer for at least the last 4-5 years. Some of Dumbeldore’s quotes are genuinely things I live my life by. Harry Potter is not just about magical witches and wizards and bad guys – Harry Potter teaches us about the fragility of life, the all encompassing nature of death, friendship, sacrifice, bravery and, perhaps most of all, love. 

I
just wanted to say thank you so much to Amy for letting me do this guest post – it’s such a cool idea, and reading hers had me totally inspired! Be sure to leave your own favourites in the comments section!!

I
guess in summing up what reading means to me, and to many of us, I think, I’ll quote the glorious Albus Dumbledore:

“Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”