January MG Reviews

Hello everybody!
Today, I`m going to be reviewing all of the middle grade books I read in January. Usually, I don`t read as much as I have this month (or don`t review a few as I wouldn`t rate them higher than 3 stars, my personal cut off for what I do and don`t review), but aside from a few DNFs early on in the book, I enjoyed all of the 20 books I got through this month. I thought 20 reviews in one post might be a bit much, so I decided to split them into middle grade and young adult posts (the YA one will be here in a few days!). Without further ado, onto the books!

The Snow Angel by Lauren St John

What a way to kick off my reading year the Snow Angel was! I`ve been a huge fan of Lauren`s work for years, and I thought this book was reminiscent of the White Giraffe series due to it having the same setting, but was also unique enough to stand out and feel very different. It is about Makena, who lives with her parents in South Africa until tragedy strikes and her life changes forever. From cruel relatives, to life in a slum, to having to begin again in Scotland, my heart was absolutely breaking for Makena during this book, and I cried more than once reading it. However, there are some beautiful, joyful moments too, such as the concept of having three magical moments every day, the friendship of Makena and Snow, and both when Makena discovers the foxes, and the mountains, of her new home. I also thought the ending was perfect for the story, and I very much recommend this if you enjoy contemporary MG with a hint of adventure. 4.5/5

How to Catch a Witch by Abie Longstaff

While I initially struggled to get into this, I definitely enjoyed the 1st book of Abie Longstaff`s middle grade series. It`s the story of Charlie, who moves to a new area and finds out that magic may be real after all, when she becomes embroiled in preventing quite a sinister plot. I really liked the way the book handles magic (it was very easy to understand but also interesting and had a logical system, which is something I like to see) and I thought Charlie was a relatable, interesting main character. I particularly appreciated the fact that she has a stammer, which seemed to be sensitively tackled (though I don`t have a stammer so can`t speak fully to that), as I can`t recall ever having read that even though it`s fairly common, and I was happy it didn`t prevent her from participating in the magic, and in fact is an asset. The other main character Kat, was also excellent. Finally, the book reminded me a bit of the World of Wishes series by Carol Barton, which was one of my absolute favourites when I was in the target age group, which was lovely, and I`ll definitely be picking up How to Bewitch a Wolf at some stage to go on another adventure in Abie`s world. 4/5

Rubies and Runaways by Janine Beacham

If anything, Rose Raventhorpe`s second adventure is even better than her first. I absolutely love the dry, witty narrative tone and I think that Rose is a really excellent heroine who is a great detective and glorious in the way she stands up for herself against what people expect of her (e.g in this book, she may have to marry her stuck up horrible cousin Herbert, and her retaliations/reactions to this) made me giggle more than once. As well as `Ghastly Herbert`, in this book Rose must investigate where a missing orphan is. The mystery is well plotted and paced, and I would never have guessed the exact outcome. The secret society of butlers continued to be a really cool concept well executed, and I love how their presence feels so natural to the stories, and the characters it allows to be part of them are brilliant (I particularly adore Bronson). I`m very much looking forward to reading Hounds and Hauntings at some point hopefully soon. 4.5/5

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

From the prologue till the last page, Sky Song captured me and took me to the magical kingdom of Erkenwald, which is under the rule of the evil Ice Queen, as young heroes Eksa and Flint attempt to rescue the kingdom from the queen`s plan to take over completely. The characters, Flint and Eksa, and also Flint`s little sister Blu, were wonderfully endearing characters who I wanted to succeed in their quest desperately, and the animal companions (particularly Pebble the fox) were so sweet and The Ice Queen, though not loveable, was a sinister, chilling villain. The book itself is excellently paced, and I was always eager to read on, and as previously mentioned the best way to describe it is simply magical. 5/5

The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson

After enjoying last year`s the Goldfish Boy, I was surprised that I liked Thompson`s 2nd novel even more. This is the story of Nate, as he and his mum move to a cottage in the country to escape his mum`s abusive partner Gary, but when his mum doesn`t return from shopping, Nate must navigate a few days on his own, aside from a few unexpected friends who involve him in a mystery linked to the past of the cottage. Nate was such a lovely character and I was so sympathetic to everything he went through, and the flashbacks to his life with Gary were so emotional, and showed that domestic violence isn`t always the stereotypical physical portrayal. I also really liked both of the other plot threads; the mystery, in which Nate hunts for a mysterious treasure with Kitty, who lives nearby and the magical realism of the imaginary friends, which had really intriguing, well done worldbuilding, and isn`t a thing I`ve seen done often. The ending was incredibly heart-warming, and I`m already looking forward to seeing what Lisa Thompson does next. 4.5/5

I Swapped my Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons and illustrated by Nathan Reed (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

While I wasn`t sure this was my sort of thing, I thought it was absolutely excellent younger middle grade. It`s about what happens when Jonny swaps his older brother Ted on new website Sibling Swap, and gets a few more brothers than he bargained for. There are a variety of bizarre new brothers, ranging from merboys to monarchs to meerkats, and I thought the concept was really clever, and imagine this idea would be even more relevant to those with siblings of their own. I think my favourite scene had to be those with Henry the 8th as they were laugh out loud funny in places, and I would highly recommend this book. There was also a mystery element to the plot, which I totally (and shamefully, for a mystery fan) didn`t pick up on over who ran Sibling Swap, and I was rather surprised at the outcome of that. I highly recommend this if you enjoy some funny middle grade and are looking for something that`ll give you a giggle. 4.5/5

The Curse in the Candlelight by Sophie Cleverly

The 5th in the Scarlet and Ivy series was as gothic and mysterious as ever, as new pupil Ebony McCloud arrives, and seems to have an unnatural influence over both pupils at Rookwood and the staff. I still loved both of the twins, but funny, feisty Scarlet is my favourite for sure, and I`m so glad we now have a dual narrative that includes both the twins so I can have both perspectives. Another interesting point of this was that the relationship between the twins and their friend Ariadne was further explored, and it felt like a realistic scenario of not knowing how to fit in with each other and the tensions that could cause, and also touched on the idea of giving people a second chance. The mystery itself was also rather creepy, and I had no idea what would happen till almost the very end (I am far too easy to fool with mystery books, even though I read loads of them!), which kept me hooked. If you want spooky and creepy MG mysteries with a hint of possible magic that still have a sense of humour, these are the books for you. 4.5/5

Here Comes Hercules by Stella Tarakson and illustrated by Nick Robertson (received from publisher in exchange for my honest review)

While I didn`t dislike this, and enjoyed it for the most part, it didn`t quite fully meet my expectations. First, I did like main character Tim as I thought he was sweet and smart, and rather capable, and I always enjoy stories where mythology and modern day meet. This introduced some more basic aspects of Ancient Greece too, so it would be good to introduce readers from the age group to the concept before learning many of the actual myths. Another aspect of the book I thought was fun was that Hercules wasn`t as heroic or helpful as expected, and some scenes showing this were really humorous, so I do wish there had been a few more of these. However, I found some parts of the story, for example Tim`s mum`s job, unrealistic, and I thought the ending was a bit too abrupt, but I look forward to trying the sequel Hera`s Terrible Trap.3.5/5

The Mystery of Me by Karen McCombie and illustrated by Cathy Brett (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

This was my first Karen McCombie novella, but it won`t be my last. Somehow, she managed to pack in her trademark combination of humour and heart into a very small amount of pages, in telling the story of Ketty. Ketty has just had brain surgery, and this is the story of her returning to school and regaining her memory. As someone with some experience of this scenario myself, I thought it was spot on in capturing how overwhelming and exhausting and downright terrifying the whole thing is. I also really liked Ketty and seeing the world through her eyes for a while, and I thought Otis, who makes a special point of looking out for her, was lovely. I didn`t expect the twist that comes quite near the end at all. Cathy Brett`s illustrations also add to the book and made me like it even more, particularly the last image we see. 4.5/5

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson

This book was quite different to my expectations of it, but I still liked the story as a whole. It`s about Amelia Fang, who lives in a fictional world called Nocturnia, as her family are arranging the Barbaric Ball and manage to draw out the king and his son from their palace for the first time in years. Amelia was an enjoyable heroine, her friends Florence and Grimaldi were both very distinct and unique, and the supporting characters such as Amelia`s family or butler Woo were great too. My favourite character was most certainly the adorable pumpkin Squashy, who is taken by the rather unpleasant prince and must be rescued, and Laura`s illustrations were absolutely wonderful and helped me visualise all these characters and like them even more. The story also took a few unexpected turns, particularly with regards to revealing more about the prince and why he`s been so unkind since meeting Amelia and her friends, and I`m intrigued enough by the twist that I`ll be reading more of Amelia`s stories as they are released. Finally, I thought the worldbuilding of Nocturnia was extremely clever as it not only subverts typical story conventions but also includes some adapted pop culture references which I smiled about when I found. 4/5

Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans

In a gloriously imaginative tale, Lissa Evans transports Fidge to the world of her sister`s favourite books, after Fidge`s frustration with sister Minnie`s toy Wed Wabbit ends in disaster. In the world of Wimbley Woo, Wed Wabbit is now a dictator, and to find her way back home, Fidge must work with irritating cousin Graham, a toy elephant and a tiny carrot toy who thinks it`s a doctor, as well as negotiate Wimbley Woos and avoid the wrath of Wed Wabbit. The world is entirely unique, really does feel like the sort of thing a young child like Minnie would be obsessed with, and the tasks they must undertake themselves were exciting to follow along with. I thought Fidge was a brilliant heroine, and I was surprised that by the end Graham had really grown on me too, and the character development was subtle but very apparent. The toys were a sheer delight, particularly Dr. Carrot, and their journey was so fun to be part of. The humour in this, particularly at the beginning, also hugely appealed to me, and I found myself chuckling more than once. If you`re looking for a world like nothing you`ve read before, and want to have a surreal experience with a great group of characters, Wed Wabbit is the book for you. 4.5/5

The Nowhere Emporium by Ross Mackenzie

I read this when it first came out, but had forgotten about it. After this reread, I can`t see that happening again. I was drawn into orphan Daniel`s world straight away, and became more intrigued still when he stumbles into a rather unique world on the run from his bullies, and soon a delightful magical adventure ensues. Daniel`s new mentor Mr Silver is very mysterious, so I adored the flashback sections that allow the reader to piece together his past before Daniel, and his new friend Ellie do. The story revolves around the Nowhere Emporium, which is essentially a collection of incredible magic rooms, which Daniel is now assisting Mr Silver in running, as things start to go suddenly wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the plot was perfectly paced and kept me utterly hooked (to the point where I read it in one glorious gulp over a Sunday afternoon) and the worldbuilding was quite honestly exceptional. All in all, I loved this a whole lot and I can`t wait to get my hands on the upcoming sequel the Elsewhere Emporium soon! 5/5

Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of these books, if you`ve read them? Have you got any on your TBR? Let me know down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl

Amy xxx

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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

Guest Post: The Animal Crossing Book Tag by @aimee_louise_l

Hello everybody!

Today, I have a guest post from my lovely friend Aimee Louise, which is a book tag we created together. I’m answering the questions over on her blog today, if you want to see my answers! 

 Tom Nook – a book that fleeced you – Best twist/cliffhanger

The Great Chocoplot. HOW CAN WE HAVE A WORLD WITH NO CHOCOLATE? Seriously, if this isn’t a shock horror twist then I don’t know how we can be friends.

Harriet – a book that misses the mark

For me, this is One Of Us Is Lying. As much as I enjoyed the book, I didn’t love it. I’d guessed THAT twist almost instantly and I guess I was expecting more from it. The hype surrounding it was massive, and I’m probably going to get a lot of grief for my opinion. Sorry guys, I just didn’t love it. 

Celeste – an underrated character

There are SO MANY characters who are underrated and I’m finding it difficult to choose just one. For me, it is going to have to be Isabelle Richardson from Little Fires Everywhere. She has some wonderfully hidden qualities that could really blossom into something great with the right nuturing and I hate the fact that her own family don’t give her enough credit or allow her to be herself. 

Mabel – a book that’s bright and sunny
A joyful, uplifting read? I’m not entirely sure I know what those are. I have a tendency of going down the more dark and twisted bookish path so light-hearted, feel good reads aren’t really my thing. However, Sealed With A Kiss by Rachael Lucas fits this criteria perfectly AND it is such a gorgeous book. This book made me want to broaden my bookish horizons and it not only got me out of a MASSIVE reading slump but it also arrived at a time when I really needed something heart-warming and comforting. Set in Scotland, this book is perfect escapism.

Timmy and Tommy – a book featuring twins
Double Act. One of my absolute favourite childhood books which I read when I was about 6 or 7 years old. Ruby and Garnet are two very different twins and I loved that the fact they were a mirror image of each other did not reflect their personalities. 

KK Slider – a book featuring music

The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Oh how I LOVE this book. If you’ve not read this yet, then where have you been hiding because it is phenomenal. The music that is included within this book is brilliant. Seriously, perfect mixtape material.

Dr Shrunk – a book featuring an eccentric character

The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. I don’t think I need to say anymore than that really.

Crazy Red – a book with thieves

The Book Thief. Another one of my all time favourite books which is about a girl called Liesel who steals books and befriends a Jewish man. It is SO much more than that really. But, books are important for minds and friendships. Just saying.

Pocket camp – A book set in a camp

Ok, so I may be cheating slightly with this one by recommending The Dream Snatcher trilogy. BUT becoming a part of Moll’s tribe back in 2015 when she stormed her way onto the scene with a Wildcat in tow, I could NOT miss this out. Seriously, saying goodbye to Moll and her tribe was heartbreaking. I’m still not over it.

Gulliver – a book that takes you on an adventure

The Wolf Wilder takes you on a wolf-riding adventure. I mean seriously, do I need to sell this to you anymore? 

Kicks – a book that’s like a new pair of shoes – a book you really clicked with

I have clicked with SO MANY books. Seriously, some of the characters who I’ve journeyed with in their various worlds have really spoken to me and found a way into my heart. However, Under Rose Tainted Skies is the book which I resonated deeply with especially when trying to get a better understanding of my own Mental Health.

Porter – a book which transports you to a new world – a book with brilliant world building

Sky Song, without a doubt is a book which transports you to a whole new world. I was so engrossed in the world of Erkenwald, that reality just totally slipped away and left me to embark in some extreme wintry conditions in order to defeat the Ice Queen. 
I tag Rebecca @_rebeccastobart, Chelley @chelleytoy and Hannah @cupofwonderland


Aimee Louise

Top Ten Tuesday- 5 Books I Barely Remember 

Hello everbody!


Today I’m taking part in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl. Like last week, I couldn’t come up with 10, so have decided to go for 5 Books I struggle to remember. This is in no way a reflection of the quality of the books- just that I read them YEARS ago. Onto the books!

 

Trouble by Non Pratt
– I remember a few things about this book (two parts of the plot), the names of the two lead characters and one side one, and that’s about it. In my defense, I think I was a bit young to fully grasp it at 12/13 and I think I’d probably remember much more if I read it agiam (now just to track down a copy…)


Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
– I loved this book. I thought the narrative style was so, so clever and I’ve never read anything like it. But I’m so fuzzy with the events of this book. I remember the set up, and the fact the main character’s called Zoe. I’d really like to reread it to see how I feel about it now!

Where Monsters Lie by Polly Ho-Yen
– if you know my love for Boy in the Tower/Fly Me Home, you’ll be surprised by this. But I really did not like this,  and I was so upset I think I’ve just blocked it from my memory. I know it’s about slugs, I recall the name of the main character and the fsct I detested it, other than that, not a squeak.


Wonder by R.J Palacio
– I enjoyed this, even though it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me. I genuinely don’t remember a single event in this now.


The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton
– I think these are my least favourite Blyton books. They’re massively overrated, if you ask me (JUSTICE FOR THE FIVE FIND OUTERS, THEY ARE THE BEST AND NO ONE KNOWS WHO THEY ARE!) And I only really remember the name of the dog, and something about secret passwords to enter their clubhouse?


Thank you so much for reading! Are you a little foggy on the events of some books? Do we share any? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

Author Interview: Lari Don

Hello everybody! 

Today, I’m really excited to have an author interview with Lari Don, whose books I absolutely loved when I read them last year. Onto the interview!

Hi Lari! Thank you so much for being here!

1. Can you please describe your writing in 5 words?

Magic, monsters, adventure, ambushes, danger…

2. What is your writing routine like? Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I wish I had a regular writing routine, involving nice quiet days typing in my study and going for long walks to think through plot problems. In fact, I do most of my writing on trains and in a shed. I spend a lot of time talking to young readers and writers in schools and libraries, so if I want to keep on top of my deadlines, I have to write while travelling. Then when I am at home, my family are usually there too, being noisy and distracting, so I have to escape to the garden shed to get peace to think and imagine. And the shed isn’t a fancy shed, it’s an old leaky tool shed, with a desk, a box of blankets, and lots of spiders. Therefore, my unusual writing habit is getting someone brave to check the shed for spiders lurking in the corners or above my head before I start to write. 

3. All of your middle grades are mainly fantasies. Was there any reason you chose to write in that genre? Do you have any favourite fantasy books?

Of my 9 novels so far, 8 are fantasy adventures! I write about magic and quests and monsters because that’s what I’ve always loved reading. Also, most of my inspiration comes from reading, researching and telling old myths, legends and folklore. So I write fantasy because I love fantasy, and because most of my ‘what if’ ideas lead to me that way. My favourite fantasy books are the ones I read when I was young, by Diana Wynne Jones (the Chrestomanci books, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Power of Three) but I’ve read some brilliant ones recently too, including the Five Kingdoms series by Vivian French and the Bartimaeus books by Jonathan Stroud.

4. Your books are all set in Scotland, which I loved (It was so nice to understand all the school references for a change!). Did you always plan for that, or did it just seem natural to set the books there when you started? Is there any part of Scotland that you’d like to set a book in that you haven’t yet?

I don’t really plan anything! I just write the stories that won’t leave me alone! My stories generally find themselves happening in Scotland because I know Scotland better than anywhere else in the world, and because the Scottish landscape is fantastic for quests and adventures. Also, location research is easier if it’s a coastline or mountain or castle that I already know or that I can visit in a weekend. However, not all my characters are Scottish (Theo in Spellchasers is from Egypt, for example) and the monsters and magic are inspired by myths and legend from all over the world. Also, I have written a novel (Mind Blind) set mostly in London, so I hope my imagination doesn’t stop at the border! Spellchasers is set in Speyside, where I was brought up, and the Fabled Beasts quested in parts of Scotland that I visit for holidays or to see family: the Borders, the West Highlands, Orkney, Skye, Sutherland… If I want to write about a ‘new’ bit of Scotland, I could consider Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Glasgow, and various other islands. But I’ll have to see what the next story wants and needs. (I think it might need a port, so perhaps I’ll set it in Leith?) Also, I’m delighted that you enjoy reading books set in Scotland and recognising the references.  When I was young, I only read one (ONE!) adventure novel for kids set in Scotland.  Everything else was English or American. Nowadays, there’s so much more choice for young readers, so much more opportunity to read about their own landscape and culture and history. I know that’s the case in Scotland, I hope it’s the case everywhere else as well! 

5. One of the main elements of Spellchasers is shapeshifting, as that is the thing the main character Molly has been cursed with. What 3 animals would you most like to shapeshift into, and why?

A hare – because I spent so much time researching hares, that I’d love to know whether what I imagined and described every time Molly ran as a hare is really how it feels. Also, I’d love to run that fast!

A hawk  – because who doesn’t want to fly? And I’d love to hover above the landscape, watching all the stories happening below me.

 A cat – after all that sprinting and running, I’d probably want to turn into a pet cat, so I could curl up beside a fire and have a snooze!  

(Then, of course, I’d want to become human again, because I don’t fancy eating grass or rodents for my tea!) 

6. I`m going to be a bit mean now. Who is your favourite Spellchaser, and Fabled Beast? Mine are Beth/Atacama and Sapphire, if you’re interested.

I should struggle to answer this, because I should love all my characters equally, but if I’m honest I already know my favourites. Yann the centaur in Fabled Beasts and Innes the kelpie in Spellchasers.  (And my favourite baddies are the Faery Queen in Wolf Notes and Nan in The Shapeshifter’s Guide to Running Away.  There are probably common themes in both of those pairs of favourites, which possibly reveal far too much about me…)   

7. This one should be a bit easier! What’s your favourite thing about being an author?

That’s not easier, because I love so many things about being an author! I love the moment an idea arrives, the ‘what if’ and ‘I wonder’, and especially when several smaller ideas crash together and sparks fly and I can feel I have a new novel coming to life.  But I also love the process of discovering the story, the long journey to find the answers to the initial questions. And I am excited any time a character does something unexpected, especially those wonderful and rare moments when a character takes control of the story and runs off with it (that happened in Rocking Horse War, my only standalone fantasy, and it seriously improved the plot!) And I love editing (yes, really. I know that’s unusual, but I love seeing the story get stronger as I slice away the extra words that I needed to find the story but that the readers don’t need to enjoy it.) And I love the moment a new book arrives, all shiny and real. AND I love talking to young readers and inspiring them to come up with stories of their own. Despite the late nights and long train journeys and spider-filled sheds, I love everything about being a writer! 

8. Finally, before the quickfire questions, can you let us in on any secrets about what you`ll be releasing next? *crosses fingers for more fabulous MG*

I hope there will be more ‘fabulous MG’ (thank you!) sometime soon, but the next book is actually a picture book. It’s called The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster, and it’s quite dark and dangerous, but also magical and mysterious, with amazing illustrations by Nataša Ilinčić. And after that – who knows? I needed a creative break after writing the Spellchasers trilogy (a trilogy takes a long time and a lot of complicated story-weaving) so I am having fun with several possible novel ideas right now. But all the ideas I am playing with involve magic, betrayals and danger, so I hope you’ll enjoy the next novel, whatever it is! 

QUICKFIRE

Hogwarts house? – Ravenclaw 

Favourite sweet treat? – Orange or mint chocolate, in the middle of the night, to keep me awake when I’m editing

Favourite season? -winter

Your 3 favourite reads of 2017? – The Empty Grave (Lockwood and Co) by Jonathan Stroud 

Within the Sanctuary of Wings (the Memoirs of Lady Trent) by Marie Brennan

Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris 

(and I got a pile of intriguing books for Christmas which I’m really looking forward to working my way through) 

3 random facts about you- 

• I’m terrified of spiders, but don’t have any problems with wasps, bees, moths, birds, snakes or dragons; 

• I am learning British Sign Language; 

• My current favourite vegetable is cauliflower. 

Thanks for asking such wonderful questions! 

Thank you for answering so wonderfully!

I hope you enjoyed Lari’s answers as much as I did. Do you love Lari’s books? Are they on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

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 

Guest Post: My Favourite MG Books by @aimee_louise_l

Hello everybody

Today, I have a brilliant guest post from my amazing friend Aimee, all about her favourite MG books! Enjoy!

Amy xxx

Thank you so much Amy for having me on your wonderful blog. I am so excited to be sharing my favourite MG books with your readers. I’ve had a fab time writing this. So without further ado, onto the books!!

The Dream Snatcher trilogy by Abi Elphinstone

Obviously this is on my list. I’d need my head examining if I was to miss out this feisty, bold spirited trilogy. With Old Magic, the wilderness and a wild spirited heroine, this MG trilogy stole my heart when it burst onto the bookish scene back in 2015.

Winter Magic curated by Abi Elphinstone

With 11 short stories celebrating the magic of Winter, these stories are perfect for sitting by a fire with a cup of hot chocolate. I absolutely love these stories and how they add that extra magic to some of the most wonderful aspects of Winter.

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

Are you surprised? Really? If this didn’t make it onto my favourite MG books list then I’d have been shouting about this book for absolutely NO reason. Hope. Friendship. Courage. Loyalty. A sprinkling of love. This book really does have it all. I’ve never been on a more atmospheric adventure that literally has magic spilling out of it’s pages.

Eren by Simon Clark

A tale of a gargoyle that feeds on stories. Erm yes please. Seriously, feed me with ALL of the stories and I’d be happy too. Dark, eerie and filled with glorious story-telling, this MG book has the right dose of dark magic sprinkled amongst its pages.

The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan

Imagine a world without chocolate? Nope. Neither could I until I read this book. There’s some serious work to be done to save chocolate, and that is not because Chris is going to eat it all himself (though I’m sure he’d LOVE to).

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Oh how I love this book. Oh how I love to read. Matilda for me captures the very essence of why books are so important. Without books, we’d not be able to escape reality. Without books, we’d not be able to become more educated and knowledgable. Without books, we wouldn’t know the hidden stories and wonders of the world and universe.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Hogwarts is my home. The Harry Potter books found their way into my heart at the age of 11 years old, Hogwarts letter recipient age to be precise, and have been with me ever since. These books have literally helped me to deal with so much in life and have always been the light in the darkest of times. I am so proud to be a part of the Harry Potter fandom and a Gryffindor at heart.

A Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood-Hargrave

I truly fell in love with Kiran’s story about a cartographer’s daughter who goes on an adventure to save her best friend. Maps. Ink. Stars. That is all this girl needs. Extra bonus if you get to discover the hidden secrets at the heart of the island.

Boy X by Dan Smith

An adventure that follows a boy called Ash who wakes up on a remote tropical island after being kidnapped and drugged. WOW. Hard-hitting stuff right? Well…there’s more. Ash has to trek through the jungle in order to find his mum, who has been imprisoned and infected with a deadly virus. IS THIS NOT ENOUGH FOR THE POOR LAD? Seriously though, a pretty action-packed adventure that tests Ash’s strength and stamina whilst the animals watch on as he crosses the jungle in a bid to save his mum.

The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me by Roald Dahl

Possibly one of the most underrated Roald Dahl books out there. I loved reading this as a child and I still love it now. Basically a small boy who dreams of owning a candy shop (watch out Willy Wonka, I think you’ve got competition on your hands) meets a giraffe, a pelican and a monkey. What’s so special about that I hear you ask. Well, the giraffe, pelican and money are window cleaners. So if you think that the people who clean your windows do a terrible job, then maybe you should consider these guys. They not half do a decent job. Just saying.

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes

You have not lived, if you haven’t read these absolute delightful and revolting poems which put a twist on the fairy tales that you know so well. So if you wanna find out why you shouldn’t mess with Red Riding Hood and how your other favourite fairytale characters are getting on, then seriously please give these a read.

I have so many more MG books which I love, but I’d be here all day if I was to continue talking about them all. So if you’d like to recommend some MG books that I should look out for then please do tell me, even if my TBR won’t forgive me,

Aimee Louise