Guest post: Daniel Hartwell on The Pirates of Pangaea

Following on from my reading of The Pirates of Pangaea I was lucky enough to get a bit of an insight about the story behind the comic from the author of the comic himself, Daniel Hartwell, read on to find out where the story came from. 

I guess ultimately I just wanted to tell a classic adventure story, combining elements from classics like Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. Pirates! Dinosaurs! Together at last!

So, when I wrote the first draft of Pirates it was intended for a teenage audience. It was going to be really knowing and over the top and have a similar sort of tone as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sophie knew Kung Fu and Kelsey was a middle aged man who looked a bit like Kelsey Grammar.

I spent a while pitching it to anyone who’d listen and well, luckily one of the people that did listen was a talented chap called Neill Cameron.

Neill and I creatively hit it off immediately. He shares my love of combining awesome things like pirates and dinosaurs and has even written a guide to the process in his ‘How to Make Awesome Comics’ book. It’s even got an appendix listing awesome things you can try combining! Here’s a link to it.

Anyway one day I got an email from Neill saying he’d pitched the idea to a new children’s comic called the Phoenix and they’d said they were interested in printing it.

Hurrah! But… this meant a bit re-writing it so it’d work better for a younger audience. Though now when I look back at some of my old scripts I don’t think we changed it as much as I’d thought. The Kung Fu stuff is gone, and Sophie and Kelsey were turned into children, but actually I think it’s actually fairly close to the spirit of the original.

I think having the cast as children actually made the stories all the more thrilling. Child characters in an adult world are always underdogs, and underdogs are the ones to root for right?

The Pirates of Pangaea by Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron is out now, published by David Fickling Books, price £8.99

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Shipwrecked – Siobhan Curham

“In the pale light of a half moon she dances around the fire, her body swaying and pulsing in time with the drums. With ever jerk of her head her hair whips at the night air and sweat trickles, salty, into her mouth. Let this be the night, she thinks to herself, please, let this be the night.”

Grace and her fellow dance club members are en route to a dream destination; a cruise shop where they are to perform in the chance of a lifetime. But when a freak storm hits they are thrown off course, and with no way of guiding the boat they happen upon a seemingly deserted island. No one knows where they are, they have no way of communicating with anyone and they start fighting amongst themselves. Can they stop blaming each other for the strange things that seem to be happening or are they are too focused on each other to see that the island is hiding a terrible secret. 

***

With the second book sat on my shelf waiting to be read and no review on my blog for Shipwrecked, I knew I had to get around to re-reading this one and soon. According to my goodreads page I really enjoyed this book the first time round, back in June 2013 but I couldn’t really remember much about the book. Thankfully this time round I enjoyed it just as much and am dying to know what happens next!

The story is described as Gossip Girl meets Lost and I completely understand why. Theres a weird island which has creepy things going on and a group of spoilt rich teenagers, with a few reasonable characters thrown in. I loved getting to know them all and the shift in Grace, the main character, as she starts to see things how they really are.

The story gripped me and it only took me two days to read the entire thing, despite being at work. I was intrigued by the mystery and hoping that someone, at some point would slap Cariss, for being such a biatch. I liked the thing with Cruise and his part in the story and I liked the way Grace became friends with people she wasn’t always so sure about.

This was, like I said, my second time reading the book and whilst I couldn’t remember what happened in the story things came back to me fairly quickly. Things I remember loving in the first reading unfortunately didn’t have as much impact second time round but I think anyone reading the book for the first time will love them too.

One of the things I loved so much about this book, other than the mystery, was the fact that it flowed so well. The way the plot unfolds really was like a tv show and I really enjoyed that. The characters, sometimes unfortunately, did feel very real and I can image people like them around, especially within private school, which is where they know each other from.

I would definitely recommend this series but if mystery with a supernatural element isn’t your thing then definitely check out the author’s other work. She is fantastic and I really do want to shout out form the rooftops about all her books I’ve read so far.

Shipwrecked was published in June 2013 by Electric Monkey. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author website

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Frozen Charlotte – Alex Bell

“The girls were playing with the Frozen Charlotte dolls again. 

The schoolmistress had given them some scraps of fabric and ribbon from the sewing room to take out to the garden. They were to practice their embroidery skills by making little dresses and bonnets for the naked porcelain dolls. “They’ll catch their death of cold otherwise,” the teacher had said.”

When Sophie and her friend try out an ouija board she expects nothing to come of it, but calling out the spirit of her dead cousin brings along questions she never thought she’d have. Now her best friend is dead and she’s off to spend two weeks in her uncles’ converted school house with cousins she barely knows and strange going-ons she doesn’t want to think about. With her youngest cousin, Lilas, asking about the girl she brought with her and her eldest cousin, Cameron, giving off a distinct feeling of dislike and Piper, the same age as her, seeming too good to be true, Sophie isn’t sure that being there is a good idea, especially when she steps into her fourth cousin, Rebecca’s, room to find a glass cabinet full of porcelain dolls that Lilas claims speak to her. 

***

This book was beyond creepy, it was bloody terrifying and I think thats why I took as long as I did reading it. I kept having to stop and start again in daytime because honestly, it was too weird. That’s not to say I didn’t love Frozen Charlotte though, I bloody loved it; but I will be checking each and every gift bought for my soon-to-be-daughter in case someone tries to buy her a Frozen Charlotte doll!

The book starts off scary with weird things happening when Sophie and her best friend Jay try out an ouija board. It trips the electrics in the cafe they are in and a waitress gets badly burnt. Then on the way home Jay falls into a canal and dies. Sophie called the spirit of her dead cousin but doesn’t believe that it actually happened until she gets to the house and hehr youngest cousin comments on the girl she brought with her. Stranger things happen and eventually things turn from scary to dangerous with Cameron warning her she shouldn’t be there and her finding out more about the cousins she barely knows.

All this happens on the Isle of Skye, off the coast of Scotland, which is a fairly remote island, making it all even creepier. Sophie’s Uncles house is miles out of the town and is right on the cliff sides. The author, Alex Bell, did an incredible job of the setting and the descriptions of the weather because even in the daytime if felt like the house was shrouded in misery and gloom.

The story was fantastic and the writing made it even creepier, making you feel like you were there alongside Sophie throughout the entire thing. The characters all seemed to be a little strange and for a while I wasn’t sure who to trust and if Sophie herself could even be trusted.

There was a lot to love about this book and honestly I did love it. It was refreshing to actually be terrified whilst reading a YA horror, it gripped me and I really found myself on the edge of my seat. The only thing I didn’t like was the romance undercurrent that I picked up between Sophie and her cousin Cameron. They weren’t blood cousins, with her mum and Uncle were actually step siblings rather than full siblings, and I think that was done to allow for the romance undercurrent. I didn’t like it and tried to ignore it but it got worse towards the end. It might have been me reading into things but I think it would have been an even better read for me had that not been there.

This was the first book published under Stripes Publishing’s Red Eye YA Horror imprint and it has gotten me really excited for the rest of the books in the series. I love that there is finally a horror publishing imprint following on from Point Horror and if the series continues with books as good as Frozen Charlotte it will be a Point Horror for a new generation.

Frozen Charlotte was published by Stripes Publishing on January 5th 2015. My copy was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author website

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Pirates of Pangaea; Book #1 – Daniel Hartwell & Neill Cameron

As Sophie embarks on a trip across the world she doesn’t know what awaits her. With both her parents dead she must go and live with her uncle, the Governor of the British colony on the island of Pangaea, a forgotten land recently discovered which is teaming with dinosaurs and pirates. The journey there is unadventurous but as soon as the hit the land, things change drastically. Sophie and the crew she made the journey with have barely hit the Sea of Green when they are ambushed by pirates. Sophie is taken prisoner as the others are left for dead and she must work out what to do on her own. With the help of cabin boy Kelsey she must tame a wild beast and escape from the danger she has found herself in. 

***

My love for comics and graphic novels is growing steadily with everyone I pick up. Usually this is because I am careful and chose ones that I know I am going to enjoy… however when Pirates of Pangaea, book 1, arrived on my doorstep I hadn’t heard of it and I wasn’t sure. The art style didn’t seem to match what I usually go for and I thought it looked a little too kidish for me.

The reason I took the plunge and read it anyway was because it had dinosaurs all over it. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, or even if you have eyes, you will know that I love my dinosaurs and I will pretty much read anything about dinosaurs. Pirates of Pangaea sounded exceptionally promising with stories of a girl riding on the back of a t-rex in a land forgotten by the rest of the world.

I dipped right in and ended up reading in one setting. It turns out that was the best thing to do because of all the ‘The Phoenix Presents’ comics Ive read so far this had to be my favourite. Set in the past it ticked off a few things that I love reading; historical fiction, strong female characters and dinosaurs. It also featured some epic adventures and some binds that I honestly couldn’t see Sophie and her new friend, Kelsey, getting out of.

The art style took some getting used to for me and whilst it didn’t win me over entirely I think that kind of thing is so much down to personal preference that I honestly can’t criticise it. Everything was clearly drawn and the pictures helped the story just as much as they do in other comics, it just felt a little too clean for me – I prefer gritty. This is probably because of the age range of the comic more than anything else though because it felt like a more grown up picture book. I also thought that Sophie was drawn a little too old looking and it wasn’t until she said, quite close to the end of the book, that she was 12 that I realised she was actually a child. At first I thought she was about 17/18 and that through me off the story a little bit. Some of that could have been to do with the time period of the book too though and the fact she was obviously a girl of a higher class. However saying that I LOVED the chapter pages with the maps and the pages explaining the different types of dinosaurs – the art there was definitely more my kind of thing.

Fighting pirates and coming across ancient tribes from the island was exceptionally exciting and I loved the story told throughout the comics in this first volume of Pirates of Pangaea. Sophie is an brilliant character because she is so strong and I love the idea of her taming such a wild beast. I wished I was her in many of the situations she encounters (maybe not the ones where she nearly dies) and I am seriously looking forward to more from this series.

Pirates of Pangaea was released on February 5th by David Fickling Books as part of the ‘The Phoenix Presents…’ series. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Neill Cameron website

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Out of Sight, Out of Time – Ally Carter

“‘Where am I?’

I heard the words, but I wasn’t sure I’d said them. The voice was rough, too coarse to be mine. It was as if there were a stranger in my skin, lying in the dark, saying, ‘Who’s there?’

‘So it’s English is it?’ 

As soon as the young woman moved to stand at the end of the bed, I could see that she was beautiful. She had an Irish accent and strawberry blonde hair in a shade that could never be anything but natural.” 

When Cammie wakes up in a strange room, surrounded by strangers, she has no clue how she got there. Things soon get even worse as she realises that not only does she not know how she got there, she doesn’t know where there is, and it would appear that she has lost a chunk of time. Not good for a young spy who is trained to take in everything around her. She calls her mum for answers but just gains more questions, her mum and her friends also have no idea where she’s been since the beginning of summer, and as the winter closes in Cammie, Bex, Liz and Macey need to piece together the clues to work out exactly what went on in the summer. However, as the girls go across countries and continents to gather answers, they soon discover that there are people one step ahead of them – and these people will do anything to protect their secrets. 

***

I love the Gallagher Girl series and I can’t believe its taken me this long to get to the fifth book. Its been over a year since I read the fourth book – I read it in October 2013 – and I wasn’t sure how hard it would be to jump back in to the series but as soon as I started it I was immersed back into the universe.

The storyline for this book actually gripped me more than any of the previous books and I think it was my favourite in the series so far. Cammie and her friends seem to have grown up a lot in the series, and this book especially, and I liked that. Once you get to this point in the series you can really see that the effects of the Summer have really changed Cammie and she isn’t the Cammie you know and love from the other books.

I loved that not a lot of the book really takes place in Gallagher Academy itself. There was more to it than that and I loved the places where the girls ended up. I enjoyed learning more about the characters and seeing their spy skills in action and I loved how the book left something – not saying what – open to be explored in the final book!

There were very few new characters in the fifth book and I don’t want to go into the new ones too much because of spoilers. Its not too much of a spoiler to say that Zach was in this book a lot and I liked that because it really shows that there are people with a heart in the book because of what happened with him last book.

A lot of the questions that were left unanswered in the series so far finally get answered in Out of Sight, Out of Time. That really pleased me and I really did love this book. Like I said I honestly think its been my favourite of the whole series and I am kinda wanting to jump straight in to book six, United We Spy!

Out of Sight, Out of Time was published by Orchard on January 1st 2012.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author website

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Secrets, Scheme and Sewing Machines blog tour: extract and review

Secrets, schemes and sewing machines by katy cannon book cover The textiles classroom was close to the drama room, but it wasn’t somewhere I’d spent a lot of time before – not since my last textiles class in Year Nine. I had a horrible feeling that Miss Cotterill was probably still going to remember the hideous stuffed whale thing I made in that class. I just hoped she wouldn’t mention it in front of Connor. 

“You want to join Sewing Club?” Miss Cotterill peered over her tiny glasses at me. “Are you sure?”

Connor was silently laughing behind me. I couldn’t see him, but I just knew.

“Very.” I tried out my best “I know what I’m doing” smile. It had worked for Mr Hughes. “I’m going to be, um, wardrobe and props mistress for the school play, so it’s important I join you here while you’re all working on the costumes.”

Miss Cotterill didn’t look particularly impressed by my made-up title, but at least she didn’t snort with amusement. Unlike Connor.

“Fine,” she said, turning back to her desk, where a queue of Year Sevens was forming, all with tangles of thread and fabric. “But I warn you, costumes are tricky. It’s going to be a lot of work, and if you want that fancy job title I expect you to earn it. So I hope you’re ready to work hard, and that you have some idea what you’re doing.”

“My gran taught me to sew when I was little,” I told her, a little stung that she so obviously didn’t think I was up to the job. “I’ll be fine.”

“Hmm,” she muttered, probably remembering the stuffed whale. She handed back a detangled felt heart to the first Year Seven. “We’ll see. And what about you, young man? What’s your job here?”

I moved aside to let Connor take centre stage. He shrugged. “Jack of all trades, really. I’m going to be the stage manager on the play, so I just wanted to introduce myself.”

That she looked approving of. “Good. I’m sure you’ll be kept busy, and that we’ll be seeing a lot of you. Now, I have a class to teach. Grace, I’ll see you in Sewing Club on Monday.”

We were dismissed.

***

For those of you who are familiar with Katy Cannon’s work you will probably know what to expect from Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines. It is the second book set at St Mary’s, follows the same group of friends as Katy’s first book, Love, Lies and Lemon Pies and has a similar layout, as the first book with simple textile projects separating the chapters like LL&LPs had recipes.

This time we are thrust into the life of Grace, the bitching, popular girl from the first book who turned out to be a pretty ok person by the end of it. I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy this book because Grace was probably my least favourite character in the first book. However it is this that makes it all the more brilliant and I ended up really enjoying the book as it not only reinforces the idea that people can change, it shows how sometimes people can be their own worst critic.

Grace’s life has been turned upside down this school year with the arrival of a sister in the summer holidays. Her parents have turned into strangers and she’s got to deal with the fact that she’s not an only child, whilst trying to succeed in hitting the goals she has set herself for year 12 – mainly to become a star in the school play. But when she’s late for auditions – due to her mother and fathers insistence on a family night out – she misses the spotlight role. The only thing open to her is the wardrobes and proper assistant role, but thats no small feat, not when Grace is determined that if thats the role she’s given, she’s going to do it the best she can. Can Grace learn to sew, hit the mark with the costumes and stitch her family together whilst she does so?

The story unfolds in a mess of fabric, stitching and the assumption that she’s going to dig for the main part by the new boy at school – Connor. Connor was an interesting character and whilst he needed his priorities sorting a little bit in parts of the book I was really taking by him. I liked the hard exterior that he put up and the little bits of the real him you got to see like when he was tending to his sister when Grace was at his house. Grace herself too grew in a way that surprised me, but it shouldn’t have done because I know what being 16/17 is like and how much one person can change in at that time of life.

It was great having some of the same characters to revisit and I really enjoyed finding out what was going on with the Bake Club lot since Mac the Big Bake Off in the last book. Katy’s writing is really great for this kind of book and you start to feel like one of the group as you’re reading.

The sewing guides between each chapter were brilliant and were so simple that I think I could probably even manage them – despite the fact I’m rubbish on a sewing machine! I liked that the started off simple and explained things clearly and that they made me want to make something – so I’m fairly confident they’ll make other readers catch the creativity bug too.

I really did enjoy this book, there were some moments that seemed a little twee but that happened in the first too and I think it comes from the audience its aimed at… its very much a younger teens insight into an older teen life with whirlwind romances and the like. I loved the outcome with Yasmin and Ash and how real that felt though, and like I said earlier, I loved just how much grace grew within the pages. Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines is well worth a read in my view!

Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines was published on February 2nd by Stripes Publishing. My copy was sent form the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Website

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Me & Mr J – Rachel McIntyre

January 1st

Q. What do you give the fifiteen year old girl with no social life?

A. A diary!

Looks like someone did their Christmas shopping in the Ironic Gifts Department this year, eh, Gran? 

Happy New Year!” 

Lara is being bullied, but she cant tell anyone, because her family has gone through enough recently and her parents are only just making ends meet and getting things sorted she she can carry on going to the ‘good school’. She’s really smart but thats not something to brag about when your 16 and have no friends… at least not until Mr Jagger, the new English teacher comes along and it makes him notice her. Now she’s got Mr J to take her mind off the bullies maybe school will get better?

***

This book took me back to being 15 and reminded me how much of an emotional rollercoaster life could be. It was harsh and painful and honestly if I was in Lara’s situation I would struggle too and it was a perfect depiction of that awful time of life by the author.

Lara is in a predicament because her family has fallen apart since her fathers business went under. She knows that the sacrifices her parents have made have been mainly for her so she can keep going to the private school she is on scholarship at. Her mum is working as a cleaner, for her bully’s parents, and her dad is drinking himself into a stupor. Her life is awful and it just keeps getting worse. So OF COURSE she is going to take refuge where she can and that turns out to be with her teacher, following him like a puppy dog and helping him with everything in the hopes she can stay under his shadow and keep away from her bullies.

I really got sucked into this book and thought that the issues brought up were handled really well. I loved how things finished and the maturity shown by Lara right at the end. I did think that the ending was a bit rushed compared to the rest of the book but I still enjoyed it.

The diary format worked really well in Me & Mr J because there weren’t a great number of characters to focus on. Lara was a very lonely girl and the way she was able to talk to her diary made me feel like a character in the book itself. The way it gave a completely open view of Lara and her thoughts and feelings were brilliant and I really thought I got to know her as a friend. The other characters were mostly terrible but you could tell there was more to most of them than the diary allowed, Lara’s dad being one in particular that I felt sorry for. Mr J was an interesting character who really came across well in the diary but an outsiders view allowed me to step back and asses the situation in a way Lara wasn’t able to do.

Me & Mr J would have been a favourite of mine if I’d have read it at 15/16. I would have loved it and resonated so much with the main character. With an older mindset I was able to see the way out that Lara couldn’t see and I could keep myself quite separate from the story. I can still remember what I was like as an actual teen though and I think this is a perfect example of a YA book specifically aimed at teenagers.

Me & Mr J was published on January 29th 2015 by Electric Monkey. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Facebook Page

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Captive Blog Tour: On writing – ‘The editing process’

A.J. Grainger, the author of Captive, on her editing process…

I am fascinated by how people write, and I love seeing a book change between first and final drafts. I’m hoping you’re interested in this too as that is what this blog piece is about. I am going to show you how one passage of my debut novel, Captive, developed from initial idea to final draft. So … here goes:

Initial idea 

I had been thinking about writing a kidnap story for a while, but I kept coming up against the same issue − the hostage had to be important enough to be kept alive. One day I was lucky enough to be invited to Downing Street, and the idea hit me: what if my lead character was the daughter of the British prime minister? And what if the reason she thought she’d been kidnapped wasn’t the real reason at all? In fact, what if everything she thought she knew about her life and the people who had kidnapped her was wrong? And the idea for Captive was born.

First draft 

My first drafts are rough. I tend to just throw everything at the page and work out later where it might fit. This means I can sometimes end up writing thousands and thousands (and thousands) more words than I need. In total for Captive I probably wrote about 200,000. (The final book is around 60,000 words.)

I generally write straight onto a computer, using a program called Scrivener.  I love Scrivener because it is like a giant digital ring binder, which means I should (in theory) never lose anything. You can also use it to take ‘Snapshots’ of a passage of writing, so you can return to earlier drafts really easily. I am an endless tweaker and forever changing sentences, so this is a really useful function.

Below is an early(ish) draft of Captive. The opening passage actually ended up going into a much later scene in the book. I also decided to divide the book up by chapters rather than splitting it into days. Also, Robyn’s sister, Addy, got younger – she’s three in the final book.

Image 1_Early draft

I like printing the text out and then scribbling all over the printout − as you can see in this later draft of the opening pages to Captive.

Image 2_Second draft

You might have noticed that the number of stairs has changed between this draft and the first one. This is because I did some more research. There is a great virtual tour of the inside of Number 10 online (here) and I actually counted the steps to try and make this scene accurate.

And here are my editor’s notes on this scene:

Image 3_Edit

Copyedit

Copyeditors are the unsung heroes of publishing. They are often freelancers, so sometimes authors won’t know even their names. Yet, copyeditors do an amazing job of picking up spelling mistakes and grammatical inaccuracies. They will also look out for larger issues to do with timing and general consistency as well as fact checking.

The US copyeditor did a brilliant and thorough check of Captive, and I am really grateful. Her mark-up of the opening page is below.

Editing - Image 4_Copyedits

After this Captive was typeset and then proofread. And here it is, as a proper book!

Editing - Image 5_final book

A. J. Grainger is an author and children’s books editor. She loves both jobs because they mean she gets to talk about books all day. Captive, her first novel for teenagers, was named ‘One to Watch’ by The Bookseller. She is currently working on her second book, which she wishes was at copyedit stage. (She really needs someone to check her timing and general consistency.) Visit A. J. online at www.ajgrainger.com or say hi on Twitter (@_AJGrainger) and Facebook.

About Captive

captive high-res

Robyn Knollys-Green is an A-list celebrity, famous for being the daughter of one of the world’s most powerful men. But not even the paparazzi can find her now.

Robyn begins to realise that she is trapped in a complicated web of global corruption and deceit − and that the strange, melancholy boy who has been tasked with guarding her might not be an enemy after all…
A thrilling, well-crafted, ever-relevant story from a talented new voice in YA fiction.

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The Dreamsnatcher – Abi Elphinstone

“There are footprints in the snow, sudden marks picked out by the moonlight. They weave a path through the forest, round the ring of ancient oak trees and on towards the wooden hut. But there they stop, and the smoke curling out of the chimney is the only sign that anyone is inside. 

Seven cloaked figures sit round a table, their hoods pulled up despite the fire crackling in the grate. At first, they whisper together, their voices low and guarded. And then the whispers fade, heads drop and lips curl back.” 

Moll has been a member of Oak’s camp for as long as she can remember. Having no parents she sees him and his wife Mushie as her parents. Thats why its hard for her to see the things Skull’s camp is doing to them. Stealing and breaking through their boundaries, it has gone too far. Especially now Skull has taken Moll’s Cob – Jinx. When Moll wakes and finds herself outside Oak’s camp she sees it as a sign that she should go and take Jinx back, but its actually a sign of something else, of something to come, and Moll doesn’t know that she’s going to be right smack in the middle of it all. 

***

This was such an incredible adventure, taking me back to my childhood and a time when things were so simple in life I needed to fill them with stories that made me sit on the edge of my seat and hope like mad the main character was going to be ok.

The Dreamsnatcher storyline was brilliant. Moll is caught up in a major dark magic scene older than she is and she is unaware until one night when she sneaks into a rival camp to steal back her horse. From then on things get weirder and weirder and I loved every second. It was dark magic at just the right level of scary and I think it will make for an excellent story for the ‘right age’ kid.

The characters were interesting. As the story unraveled you found out more about them all and I really liked the plot with Alfie and how his character developed especially. Gryff was a brilliant character too, especially for one that didn’t talk and I loved how the author managed to get characteristics across through his body language and the like.

Writing wise the book was what you’d expect from a middle grade book but that doesn’t make it bad in any way, shape or form. With words flowing like the magic within the book I was quickly sucked in and taken on Moll’s adventure.

I couldn’t praise this book any more, it was exciting and full of adventure and everything I wanted it to be. I am sure it is the first in a series because of where things ended but its one I will follow closely because the first book was brilliant.

The Dreamsnatcher will be published by Simon and Schuster on February 26th 2015. My copy was sent to me as a gift from the author.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Website

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January Book Haul

Good Morning lovely people! I hope all is well in the world of books and blogs!

I realised this morning that I hadn’t done a Letterbox Love for around 6 weeks and thats bad, I know. I wanted to but being busy and not having much time for blogging has left me a little behind. After thinking about it I know I’m not going to have much time at all from now on so I am going to stop doing a weekly Letterbox Love and just do a monthly book haul. This post is a little bit of a lie because I did get some of these books for Christmas and during December but from now on it will be a monthly post. So without further ado let me share my books!

 

Mailbox  Jan 2015 Mailbox Jan 2015 2

 

This looks like a lot of books, I know! I bought some, got some gifted and got sent a number through the post which I wasn’t expecting! Thank you to all publishers who sent me books and people who gifted them to me!

 

For Review: 

A Whisper of Wolves – Kris Humprey (Unsolicited) 

Published by Stripes on March 2nd 2015

An Island of Our Own – Sally Nicholls

Published by Scholastic on April 2nd 2015

The Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury 

Published by Scholastic on January 1st 2015. I have read and reviewed a copy which was previously sent to me by LoveReading4Kids.co.uk which can be read here. 

Elspeth Hart and the School for Show Offs – Sarah Forbes (Unsolicited)

Published by Stripes on May 4th 2015 

Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines – Katy Cannon 

Published by Stripes on 2nd February. I will be part of the blog tour for this on Tuesday 10th February, join me for my review and an extract of the book then.

The Alex Crow – Andrew Smith

Published on February 26th by Electric Monkey.

Looking for Alaska – John Green 10th Anniversary edition (Unsolicited)

Published on January 13th by Harper Collins Children’s Books.

Gladiator School: Blood Oath – Dan Scott (Unsolictied) 

Gladiator School: Blood Justice – Dan Scott (Unsolicited)

Published by Scribo on March 13th 2013 and March 12th 2015 

Love Bomb – Jenny McLachlan (Unsolicited)

Published by Bloomsbury on 12th March 2015.

Pirates of Pangaea – Daniel Hardwell & Neill Cameron (Unsolicited) 

Published by The Pheonix Presents/ David Fickling Books on 5th February 2015.

The Dreamsnatcher – Abi Elphinstone

Published by Simon and Schuster on February 26th 2015. I have read this, review will publish tomorrow!

The Accident Season – Moira Fowley-Doyle (Unsolicited)

Published by Corgi on July 2nd 2015. 

The Bell Between Worlds – Ian Johnstone (Unsolicited)

Republished by Harper Collins Children’s Books on 1st January 2015. I read this in 2013 when it first came out and am delighted that this copy finally has confirmation of a second book which I have been waiting for ever since! I am also quoted in it! yay!  

Me & Mr J – Rachel McIntyre 

Published by Electric Monkey on February 2nd 2015. 

Juvie – Steve Watkins

Published by Walker 0n January 1st 2015.

Gifted: 

Graham of Thrones – Graham R.R. Stark 

My sisters idea of a Christmas joke gift… I’m actually scared of reading incase it gives spoilers of the actual book!

Shiverton Hall – Emerald Fennell 

Shiverton Hall: The Creeper – Emerald Fennell

Christmas pressies from my lovely Mr… I have been wanting to read this for ages!

Fables: Animal Farm – Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham & Steve Leialoha

Gift from my sister again for Christmas, I loved the first comic and am planning on reading them both together again to remind myself of what happened!

Bought: 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – Heidi Murkoff 

The Baby Whisperer: Sleep – Tracy Hogg 

Babies for Beginners – Roni Jay (Not pictured) 

As you may know I am expecting my first baby and of course I have turned to books for advice on how to deal with certain things. Babies for Beginners was recommended by Keris Stainton and was fantastic, I am definitely going to be referring back to that one for quite some time!

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