24 September 2016

Blog Tour: Review: The Deviants by CJ Skuse

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?5 Words: Secrets, friendship, relationships, family, loyalty.


5 Words: Secrets, friendship, relationships, family, loyalty.

Slow and steady wins the race.

And this book definitely won.

I always find myself quite thrown when I read a slower-paced thriller. It's always a shock to the system and there are two ways it can go - with The Deviants it was amazing and I was not disappointed. Slow definitely does not mean boring, and it certainly does not mean than the story is any less intense.

I loved the style, I loved the format, I loved how everything was drip-fed and prompted, it was almost like a horror in how I came to certain realisations and how everything built up in intensity into an ending I wasn't quite expecting. I loved the setting and how it seemed to accentuate everything - it's a sleepy seaside town emptied of tourists, where nothing much ever happens and everyone knows everyone.

I really loved Ella and how so many people thought that they knew her, thought that they knew what was best for her. For all of the times she thought that she was being a bitch, deep down she seemed to be a really nice person.

This book tackles a lot of important and difficult subjects. I could pick out so many quote to share, but then I might spoil the story.

20 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #70

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Audiobooks.

I am very picky about the audiobooks I listen to, and I tend to be quite sporadic about actually listening to them. I definitely do have an ultimate favourite narrator, and I honestly have every performance of hers. Rachael Louise Miller is just outstanding.
  • The Hunger by Melvin Burgess, read by Rachael Louise Miller
  • The Quietness by Alison Rattle, read by Annie Hemingway
  • Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsey, read by Mike Rogers
  • The Clockwork Scarab by Coleen Gleason, read by Jayne Entwistle
  • Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering, read by Rachael Louise Miller
  • Scarlet by AC Gaughen, read by Helen Stern
  • Silent Scream by Angela Marsons, read by Jan Cramer
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, read by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell
  • The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne, read by Rachael Louise Miller
  • Open Road by Emery Lord, read by Rebecca Gibel

13 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #69

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten All Time Favourite UKYA Books.

My one true love. This was so hard, because UKYA has the most incredible selection of books.

  • Junk by Melvin Burgess
  • Lucas by Kevin Brooks
  • Darkmere by Helen Maslin
  • Acid by Emma Pass
  • Slated by Teri Terry
  • Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
  • Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
  • Pirates! by Celia Rees
  • Possessing Rayne by Kate Cann
  • Geek Girl by Holly Smale
What's your favourite UKYA book?

10 September 2016

UKYACX YA Blog Tour: Lindsey Barraclough talks Inspiration and Writing Long Lankin

Said my lord to my lady, as he mounted his horse:

‘Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the moss’.

Said my lord to my lady as he rode away:

‘Beware of Long Lankin that lives in the hay’.

As a teenager, I came across an old book of English folk songs, and found myself musing over such ditties as Six Dukes Went a-Fishing, Jack the Jolly Tar and The Basket of Eggs. The subject matter of these old ballads tended towards walks on Mayday mornings, courtship frolics and disappointments in love, mostly involving ploughmen, village maidens, an inordinate number of sailors, and surprisingly, cooked herrings. So imagine my shock, and indeed horror, when I turned a page and found a centuries-old seriously nasty song, bristling with menace, about someone, or something, called Long Lankin.

The doors were all bolted and the windows all pinned,

Except one little window where Long Lankin crept in.

You are never quite sure of the true nature of this individual (there are suggestions that he was a leper seeking a cure by witchcraft), but once inside the house, with the assistance of a ‘false nurse’ he kills a baby and drinks its blood, collected in a basin. For good measure the two of them also murder the child’s mother.

Here’s blood in the kitchen. Here’s blood in the hall.

Here’s blood in the parlour where my lady did fall.

For these ghastly crimes the creature is hung in a gibbet and the nurse burned in a fire close by…

Even more curiously, the ballad was recorded as being sung by a nun, Sister Emma, in Berkshire, in the early years of the last century, though it was in existence long, long before that and is known in varying forms in different parts of the British Isles.

Even the tune of this song has a sinuous, sinister shape.



Decades later, when my life was crazily busy with five boisterous children and the only time I had to myself was ridiculously late at night, this ballad literally came back to haunt me.

I was brought up in a wild and marshy place, of reeds and creeks and mud and pools, in the days when children were allowed to roam outside, playing unsupervised. That landscape has suffered much from development over the years, although pockets of it remain if you know where to look for them, but somehow the lost marshland of my childhood and that lost folksong came feverishly together over three months, mostly in the wee small hours of the morning, and became my first book Long Lankin.

It is set in 1958, and is inhabited by many of the odd and eccentric people I knew as a child, particularly the central character, my old aunt. Her ancient house, now sadly demolished, became Guerdon Hall in Long Lankin. I stayed in the house often as a child, and I think my poor aunt would have been mortified to know how many nightmares I suffered while sleeping in its crumbling walls.

I spent a couple of years working on the story, rewriting, and pruning, and eventually the tale found its way to Random House. Things then became quite exciting. I found myself in a new world altogether, travelling up and down the country attending festivals and book fairs and going into schools for talks and workshops on creative writing – all a far cry from scribbling away in the tiny little room at the top of our house, so small you can’t even stand up straight in it.

A couple of years later my next book The Mark of Cain was published, which can be read independently of the first, although it is a companion. It is set four years later, in 1962, and this time it is the ‘false nurse’ who takes centre stage, hell-bent on revenge, as with her dying breath she cursed the Guerdon family until the end of their line. Now there are only two young sisters left…

Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss...

When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London.

But what they don't know is that their aunt's life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries -- before it's too late for little Mimi. 

Riveting and intensely atmospheric, this stunning debut will hold readers in its spell long after the last page is turned. 

UKYACX MG Blog Tour: Sally Nicholls talks Children in Work and Researching Billy Button

It’s not that long ago that it was normal for children to have jobs. Apparently in some mills, the date you were old enough to start employment was the date your head was small enough in relation to your arm that you could get your arm over your head and touch your opposite ear. (Babies arms are about as long as their whole head – weird I know, but true. You can manage the ear thing aged about eight.)

Up until 1944, the school leaving age was fourteen. My grandmother left school at fourteen, and had to help her mother, who ran a boarding house for students in Cambridge. When she got her first job, as a nanny, she very grandly told her new employer that she,

“Didn’t do housework.”

“Oh no, of course not,” said the children’s mother.

I find the idea of children who work interesting because they are fundamentally still children. My grandmother was still a child. Yes, she had to sweep floors and wash dishes, but she still lived at home, she still spend her free time doing all the things fourteen-year-olds do, she wasn’t kicked out and expected to make her own way in the world; in fact, after the War Office decided that nannies were unpatriotic, she moved back home to work for the fire brigade, and didn’t leave home again until she married.
 © Sheena Dempsey Illustration

When researching Billy Button: Telegram Boy, I went to the British Postal Museum and was given a whole folder filled with reminiscences of real-life telegram boys (and girls). It was fascinating. In larger city post offices, telegram boys would wait in a big room to be given jobs. During both wars, they would have to deliver telegrams telling families that their husbands or sons had been killed or injured. In those cases, they’d be told what the telegram said, so they knew not to wait for a reply. They’d be told what to do if the recipient fainted or had hysterics, and sometimes they’d have to knock on neighbours’ doors to find someone to sit with the recipient. One telegram boy even had a story about the day the post office received the telegram saying his own father had been killed.

There were some fun stories too. The boys got up to all sorts of mischief, including lots of fights, and did plenty of coming home the long way round so as to avoid having to sit and wait in the office for new telegrams to come in. If they got in trouble, they had to write letters of apology to the Post Office.

By the time Billy is riding his red bicycle, the school leaving age is fourteen, so any work children do will have to fit around that. But I found stories in that folder about telegraph boys (and girls!) delivering telegrams from as young as eight or ten.

Many of our assumptions about what children can and can’t do are cultural. I’m glad children nowadays aren’t sent down mines or up chimneys, and I’m glad we have universal free education up to eighteen in this country. But when I hear about teenagers who aren’t allowed to go into town on their own, I’m a little sad. Young people are capable of a lot more than we sometimes remember. And though I’m pleased that young people in this country don’t have to work for their living, it’s worth remembering that not long ago, many of them did.

Billy Button has always dreamed of being a telegram boy. He loves their smart uniforms and shiny bicycles, but he’s too young for the job.

So when the regular telegram boy breaks his arm and Mr and Mrs Button are in urgent need of a new boy, Billy jumps at the chance to don the Royal Mail badge and ride his very own bicycle.

But will Billy be able to keep all the village residents happy with his deliveries?

He might have to work some magic to make grumpy Mr Grundle smile… 

05 September 2016

YA Shot Blog Tour: Eleanor Wood talks Songs and Stories

There are just under two months to go until the big event itself and I am only too happy to support my one true love: UKYA. Today I have the pleasure of hosting the wonderful Eleanor Wood, one of my favourite UKYA authors. Her writing is fantastic, authentic, and brave and you can read my review of Secret Rockstar Boyfriend here.


Go and head over to the YAShot website, check out the line up and book tickets, and keep an eye on the #YAShot hashtag on Twitter where you can find more stops on the tour and more giveaways.

Songs and Stories

This is a story about books and writing (I promise). But it starts with music. It often does…

The first time I ever saw Bat for Lashes was at Glastonbury. It was around the time her first album, Fur and Gold, came out. She was beautiful in glitter and feathers and headbands; her songs were about creativity and magic, and at one point she instructed the audience to howl like wolves. I fell in love on the spot.

That night before I went to sleep, in the camper van I was sharing with three other people, I scribbled notes in my little notebook – so I wouldn’t forget how her songs had made me feel.

TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT FAIRYTALES, I wrote.

LIGHT AND DARK AND BLOOD AND MAGIC. POWER.



At the end of Glastonbury weekend, I went home – muddy and tired but happy – and I started writing. I started and – for the first time ever – I didn’t stop.

I wrote my first-ever full-length novel, sitting up late every night at the kitchen table. It was around then I started drinking coffee.

That novel was never published, but it got me an agent and made me take writing seriously for the first time in my life. It made me take myself seriously for the first time in my life. It was the first time I ever truly felt: OK, maybe I can really do this.

I still love Bat for Lashes.

There are many things I do that kick start my creativity and writing powers if I feel like they are flagging: cashew nuts, red lipstick, switching between computer and longhand, going for a walk, going for a run, having a long bath, going to a new place…

But the biggest one is music. I listen to music and it makes me want to do great things and change the world.

I listen to Patti Smith and I want to channel her energy.

I listen to Nirvana and I remember how I felt the first time I ever heard them and my life changed forever.

I listen to Prince and I dance around like an idiot.

I am working on a new book. I was up writing late last night, until I was so tired I could hardly see. So I got into a very hot bath and listened to Fur and Gold by Bat for Lashes, the whole album, all the way through. Then I went back to my kitchen table and wrote a bit more…


Eleanor Wood is the author of My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend – a book about music, friendship and blogging. Her second book, Becoming Betty – about girls in bands, set in Brighton – is coming out in 2017.

She blogs about books and music (among other things) at http://eleanor-wood.blogspot.co.uk

You can follow her on Twitter at @eleanor_wood


GIVEAWAY


03 September 2016

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Undertow by Elizabeth Heathcote

My husband's lover. They said her death was a tragic accident. And I believed them... Until now.

Carmen is happily married to Tom, a successful London lawyer and divorcé with three children. She is content to absorb the stresses of being a stepmother to teenagers and the stain of 'second wife'. She knows she'll always live in the shadow of another woman - not Tom's first wife Laura, who is resolutely polite and determinedly respectable, but the lover that ended his first marriage: Zena. Zena who was shockingly beautiful. Zena who drowned swimming late one night.

But Carmen can overlook her husband's dead mistress... Until she starts to suspect that he might have been the person who killed her.


5 Words: Family, trust, secrets, lies, love.

This book was insanely gripping and kept me hooked right from the first page.

It took me a little while to connect with Carmen, to really get to like her and understand her. I felt that her characterisation was a little jumpy and unreliable. I loved her resentment towards Tom's first wife and how bitter she was at Laura being so perfect. I mean, who even has enough time for such perfection? I just wish Carmen had been a little more consistent.

This started off quite slow, and it took its time to get going. But once it was off? I could not put it down, reading each page faster than the last.

The thing I loved most about this book was how each setting was described. I was transported instantly to these places, I could feel the rain on my face, hear my own footsteps striking loud against the silence, see the oppressive mist rolling in from the sea... And that was just the first chapter!

When I got to end, I thought I had it all figured out - but those last few pages surprised me, I wasn't entirely right (but close!).

Undertow is definitely worth a read if you're a fan of psychological thrillers!

GIVEAWAY