Little Bird Flies – Karen Mc Combie

Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for the stunning new novel from Karen McCombie, ‘Little Bird Flies,’ illustrated by Jasu Hu. It tells the tale of Bridie, named ‘little bird,’ by her family after being born broken and bruised on a stormy night just like a damaged baby bird. Bridie lives on the remote Scottish island of Tornish, where she like her fellow islanders are at the mercy of the laird who rules over him. Her life seems simple and her future predetermined but she dreams of a different world, far across the ocean. Yet she cannot share her innermost desire because she is inextricably bound to this island by the dying wishes of her mother. But when a new Laird takes control of the island Bridie and her family lives becoming increasingly difficult and their future is no longer certain. In the most desperate of times,, what will Bridie do to protect those she loves?

I had so many strong feelings when I read this story. Rage, despair and frustration ran through my brain as I watched Bridie’s world being destroyed before my eyes.  I was furious that one person’s greed and lack of compassion could selfishly destroy whole communities and I wanted to hold this new Laird to account for his uncaring and thoughtless actions. Although the year is 1861, the themes that run throughout this story are as relevant now as they were then. We still live in a world where communities are persecuted for no other reason that they are a powerless and can’t rally against those who choose to devastate their lives.

Karen has assembled the most marvellous cast of characters whose lives you can’t help but be caught up in. Bridie and her sisters are totally different, each carving out their own ways of living in this new world they find themselves transported. We also see the huge contrast between the kindness of Caroline and Samuel  who use their fortune and position to make positive changes. Whilst the Laird and his wife are consumed with greed and are ruthless in their pursuit of gain. It’s a real slice of social history watching the events of the story unfold. Wonderfully atmospheric, Karen conjures up the story magnificently stimulating all of our senses with her rich, vivid descriptions. The story leaves us feeling bereft. As a reader we must know Bridie’s future, so fortunately this is just the start of this journey and we return in July to find out more in, ‘Little Bird Lands.’

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews, interviews and giveaways.

Thank you to Rebecca and Nosy Crow for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. ‘Little Bird Flies,’ is available now online or in any good bookshop.

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The Boy Who Flew With Dragons by Andy Shepherd, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Today on the blog I have a special guest post from Andy Shepherd to celebrate the publication of the final book in her gorgeous series, ‘The Boy Who Flew With Dragons.’ At the end of ‘The Boy Who Lived with Dragons,’ we saw Tomas make a promise to his Grandad but it is a promise that he is struggling to fulfil. He can’t bring himself to share with his friends the truth and so he finds himself trapped in a web of deceit as he tries to keep everyone around him happy. Andy has created an equally charming and heart-warming story filled with humour and mayhem but we now feel that time is running out for Flicker and his friends despite Tomas’s reluctance. But how do you come to terms to saying goodbye to those you love even when you know there is no other option? Sara Ogilvie’s illustrations once again capture all the chaos and carnage perfectly as we watch the dragons spiral out of control. Filled with humour, heart and not to mention a stack of mayhem this is a charming but poignant ending to this fabulous series. 

Where did the idea come from? – Andy Shepherd

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about ideas that roam around the ether looking for the perfect storyteller. And Julia Cameron uses the term serendipity – the notion of staying open and alert and the world rewarding you with little treasures.  I find the whole where do your ideas come from fascinating and like Elizabeth Gilbert just a bit magical.

The Boy Who Grew Dragons has had many lives. Its grown over the years.

Starting off as a tiny seed – the simple idea of a dragon my son and I found living on our shed roof. When my second son was born he had all sorts of questions about our dragon. And so with that curiosity, the story grew.

But the biggest question was: Where did our dragon come from?

And for the answer to that one, I had to wait.

Until one day, I was walking our dog down past the allotments. As I pottered along that question started buzzing around my head again. Looking in at all the plots, I wondered if perhaps there had been an egg buried under the soil. But that quickly turned to What if he grew on a plant? It would have to be a very special kind of plant to grow a dragon. And so I started picturing what that might look like.

It was only on the way home that a little thought fluttered down and settled on my shoulder, like a butterfly.

And that thought was,  Isnt there actually something called a dragon fruit?

And of course there is. I had heard of dragon fruit, but I had never seen a dragon-fruit tree.  So just like Tomas in the story I rushed home and looked it up on the computer. And I couldnt believe my eyes. Because it was better than anything I could have made up. The tree has long tendrils that burst out like a shot of flames. And huge moon-white flowers that only bloom for one night. (You can find some amazing photos of the dragon-fruit tree on my website)

This strange, amazing tree looked like it had magic in it already. It deserved to be in a story.

So just like that I finally had the idea I needed to grow our dragon story seedling into a fully-grown story.

Sometimes a story just needs that one little idea to turn it into something more. You may not always know when or where youll find it, but I think the key may to be as much like Tomas as possible. He keeps his eyes wide, wide open – you have to when you live with dragons! But more than that, he has his eyes wide open to the wonder of the world. Someone else might have ignored the dragon fruit tree, or worse pulled it out because it looked strange and covered in brambles. But he stayed curious. And open to that strangeness. And thats when the magic happened.

I love this quote from Neil Gaiman.

‘You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.’

So keep curious and keep your eyes open and with any luck the ideas will flutter down and settle : )

 

Thank you to Andy for this really insightful guest post and for sending me a copy of your wonderful book. ‘The Boy Who Flew With Dragons,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

Vote For Effie – Laura Wood, illustrated by Emma Tritheart

Today it’s my stop on the ‘Vote For Effie,’ blog tour with a special guest post from Laura Wood in a series celebrating different young girls who are changing the world. I’ve been a huge fan of Laura’s books and have adored everything she has written so it was with great anticipation that I got my hands on a copy of ‘Vote For Effie,’ and I wasn’t disappointed. Effie Kostas is one of those characters who is instantly endearing, passionate and unafraid in a world where those who stand up for themselves are often ignored or mocked she refuses to lie down when she sees injustice happening at school. Effie goes head to head with the most popular boy in school for Student Council Present determined to make a difference and implement positive changes. Refusing to be deterred by her lack of popularity, she assembles the most wonderful band of misfits who fight for what they believes in despite the odds being stacked highly against them. Gutsy, funny and brilliantly written it’s one of those books I want to press into children’s hands and demand they read.

Celebrating young girls who are changing the world – Laura Wood

Havana Chapman- Edwards

Havana Chapman-Edwards is a seven-year-old-girl who joined the National School Walkout for gun control change in America. She was the only student who walked out of her elementary school in Virginia, and a photo of her sitting alone that day quickly went viral on social media. It’s not just this initial action that makes Havana such an inspiration, though. Building on the attention, Havana was determined to make a difference, and she started a GoFundMe account to finance a book club. On the page she explains, “Every month, I am going to host a book club and read aloud a book about an amazing female black role model. Girls and boys need to see strong black females in their books. I call these women and girls “sheroes”.

Havana is a shining example of what young people are capable of. I think it’s so inspiring to see her making such a difference. I love that she is vocal about her ambition to become an astronaut, and there’s no doubt in my mind that she can achieve whatever she wants. I find it really moving to see her expressing herself so confidently and that’s certainly something that I wanted to capture in Vote for Effie.

You can check out Havana’s GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/rhymersarereaders

Thanks to Laura for her special guest post.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and guest posts.

Thank you to Harriet and Scholastic for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a copy of this brilliant book. ‘Vote For Effie,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

Lightning Chase Me Home – Amber Lee Dodd

Today it’s my stop on the ‘Lightning Chase Me Home,’ blog tour with my review of the follow up to Amber Lee Dodd’s debut, ‘We Are Giants.’ Amelia Hester McLeod is bound to be bold and brave after being named after two fearless explorers Amelia Earheart and Lady Hester Stanhope. But Amelia doesn’t feel brave instead she feels hopeless and a little bit powerless. Her Mum has walked out on the family, her Dad is full of despair and her Grandpa is becoming more forgetful by the day. She’s about to start at a new school but she knows she will stand out and not for the right reasons because learning has always been a struggle for Hester. On the night of her 11th birthday in line with island tradition she makes a wish on the Serpent’s Tooth Rock. Hester is convinced that this is nonsense, there is no way that wishes can come true. But the island hides dark, powerful magic and Hester soon discovers that her wish is about to change her life and those of the islanders irreparably. Can she learn to control the magic before its too late?

Beautiful, empathetic storytelling meets magical folklore in this compelling tale from Amber Lee Dodd. This story is heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measures as we see Hester trying to come to terms with her Mum’s disappearance. She is convinced that it is her own lack of courage that has driven her Mum away and she is determined to put this right and be reunited with her Mum no matter what the cost. I loved how Amber seamlessly weaves wild magic through the story whilst dealing with some difficult experiences for Hester. The characterisation is just marvellous, Hester is flawed, afraid and anxious but as the story develops we see her inner fierceness emerge as she has to make some incredibly difficult decisions to save those that she loves. I have a particular soft spot for Hettie and Penny who Hester initially fears and judges as being interfering neighbours but we soon see their true colours when the life on the island becomes increasingly perilous. ‘Lightning Takes Me Home,’ is an enchanting and intriguing magical tale.

 

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and guest posts.

Thank you to Emily and Scholastic for inviting me to join in with the blog tour. ‘Lightning Chase Me Home.’ is available to buy now online and from any good bookshop.

Mo, Lottie and the Junkers Cover Reveal – by Jennifer Killick, illustrated by Gareth Conway

Following on from the success of Jennifer Killick’s brilliant books, ‘Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink,‘ and ‘Alex Sparrow and the Furry Fury,’ Jennifer Killick is back with a new series and today I am hosting the cover reveal for the first book. ‘Mo, Lottie and the Junkers,’ will be published on the 18th April by Firefly Press.

So without further ado here it is…….

Illustrated by Gareth Conway with cover design by Kathryn Davies, this stunning cover hints at the mystery and mayhem that lies beneath the cover. I particularly love the use of bold colours, Mo and Lottie look like they will be huge fun. So let’s find out more about this new adventure from Jennifer.

Mo, Lottie and the Junkers

‘Mo, Lottie and the Junkers,’ is the first in a new series of MG sci-fi detective stories featuring the eccentric, engaging and hilarious duo Mo and Lottie.

Mo Appleby’s ordered life is turned upside down when he and his mum move in with his new stepdad and stepsisters, Lottie and Sadie. The home he left behind is just across the street, and there’s something not quite right about the new occupant. Other strange new people keep popping into his life, too: a bonkers lollipop man and a boy called Jax, who seems to understand Mo better than anyone else, especially Lottie.

Who are the weird new people in their town? Do they have any involvement in the
disappearance of Mo’s dad many years ago? And why does the ice cream taste so good? Lottie is determined to find out exactly what is going on, even if it makes Mo mad, and even if it leads them both into serious danger…

This sounds completely intriguing, I can’t wait to get my hands on this book I think it will be hugely appealing and I will definitely be adding this to my school library as we loved Jennifer’s other books.

Jennifer Killick

Jennifer Killick has always wanted to be a writer, but really started when
she applied for a Creative Writing MA at Brunel University, which is where
she first got the idea for ‘The Really Big Stink.’ She lives in Uxbridge, in a
house full of children, animals and Lego. When she isn’t busy mothering or
step-mothering (which isn’t often) she loves to read, write and run, as fast as
she can.

Thank you to Jennifer and Firefly Press for inviting me to do the cover reveal, ‘Mo, Lottie and the Junkers,’ is available to pre-order online now or from any good bookshop.

When Good Geeks Go Bad – Catherine Wilkins

Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for Catherine Wilkins hilarious new book, ‘When Good Geeks Go Bad.’ It’s tricky enough navigating secondary school when you’re in the popular crowd but when you’re a geek and you stand out for all the wrong reasons, well then life is incredibly tough. Ella is desperate to fit in and is confident that if she can only have a pair of cool shoes like everyone else then at least she stands a chance. But her Dad seems determined to scupper any chances she has of being cool by refusing to buy her the shoes and insisting on a sensible and extremely boring pair instead. Outraged Ella decides enough is enough. No matter how good she is or hard she tries it doesn’t get her anywhere. Time for a new plan! So what happens when a good girl goes rogue? Rebellion seems fun at first but Ella soon finds her life slipping out of control. Can she turn things round or will she be stuck on the wrong side of the track forever?

Fabulously funny and cringeworthy in equal measures, ‘When Good Geeks Go Bad,’ is  a rollercoaster of a ride as we watch Ella unravel before our eyes on her mission to be bad. There are so many laugh-out-loud and embarrassing moments as Ella tries so hard to fit in. I despaired at the tippex and shoe episode, the reader knows it’s bound to go disastrously wrong for Ella but there is nothing that you can do but watch and hope there is some light at the end of the tunnel for her. It shows quite clearly how peer pressure can escalate bad behaviour extremely quickly. But Ella has a conscience that she battles with as she tries to balance the need for popularity against the need to still be herself. It captures brilliantly the stresses and pressures that children face in a bid to survive in a world that increasingly demands them to have the latest and best of everything. Warm, wise and very witty I can see this book being incredibly popular at school.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour to find out more about this fabulously funny book.

Thank you to Rebecca and Nosy Crow for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. ‘When Good Geeks Go Bad,’ is available to buy online now and from any good bookshop.

Knitbone Pepper Ghost Dog: The Silver Phantom Cover Reveal – Claire Barker & Ross Collins

I’m really excited to be able to reveal for you today, the cover of Claire Barker and Ross Collins’s new Knitbone Pepper adventure, ‘Knitbone Pepper Ghost Dog: The Silver Phantom.’ I’ve been a huge fan of this series since it launched with ‘Knitbone Pepper Ghost Dog,’ over three years ago and the latest instalment will be published on April 4th 2019 by Usborne.

So without further ado here it is…….

This is such a charming cover, I have to say it’s definitely my favourite in the series so far. I love the use of the vibrant colours for the cover that will definitely stand out on any book shelf and demand to be read. Illustrated by Ross Collins with cover design by Hannah Cobley and Will Steele, I predict this will be a huge hit with Knitbone Pepper Ghost Dog fans.

In ‘The Silver Phantom,’ we return to the crumbling Starcross Hall where Knitbone Pepper, a friendly ghost dog, haunts the Pepper family with a gaggle of other ghostly pets. When a vintage plane flies into Starcross Hall it brings with it Martin the hamster’s beloved owner, Winnie’s long-lost ghostly granddad. But he’s a human ghost, and everyone knows they always spell trouble…

Claire Barker

Claire Barker graduated from Bath Spa University with a degree in English Literature and History. She studied illustration for a further two years and worked as a teaching assistant for several more. Claire used to live on narrowboats but now lives with her family on a small, untidy farm in deepest, darkest Devon. When she’s not busy writing or illustrating she spends her days wrestling sheep, battling through nettle patches and triumphantly catching rogue chickens.

Ross Collins

Ross Collins is an award-winning illustrator who has worked on over 100 books, including titles by authors such as Michael Morpurgo, Julia Donaldson, Francesca Simon and Ali Sparkes. He has also written over a dozen picture books, including The Elephantom, which has now been brought to the stage at London’s Royal National Theatre by the creative team behind “War Horse”. Ross studied at the Glasgow School of Art, achieving a first in Illustration, and winning the MacMillan Children’s Book Prize for his first book The Sea Hole the same year.

 

Thank you to Claire and Usborne for inviting me to host the cover reveal, I can’t wait to get my hands on this gorgeous book. ‘Knitbone Pepper and the Silver Phantom,’ is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop.