Giveaway and Review of Mermaid by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ellen Anderson



Mermaid is a beautifully written story by C Beebies presenter Cerrie Burnell.

When Luka sees Sylvia swim he is mesmerised and wishes that he could swim. Luka is then shocked to see that she is in a wheelchair even though she is such a good swimmer. When Sylvia offers to teach Luka to swim, he jumps at the chance and the two discover a magical world under the sea.

Mermaid is an inspiring book about friendship that shows young readers that anything is possible.

The illustrations are absolutely stunning and really bring this magical tale to life. This is a fantastic book that we highly recommend.

Thank you to Scholastic for sending us a copy to review.

We have one copy of Mermaid to giveaway. To enter, please re-tweet this post. Open to UK entrants only. Giveaway closes on Friday 3/07/2015. The book will be sent from the publisher.

Trailer for King Cat by Marta Altes


I am so excited to be posting the link below to the new video for the hilarious King Cat by Marta Altes from Macmillan Kids:


Review of The Secret Place by Tana French


Secret Place

Older readers may or may not remember the intensely passionate feelings of their teenage years but Tana French portrays these masterfully in this tale set in Dublin`s St Kilda`s Boarding School for Girls. When Chris Harper, a student at the boys` boarding school nearby, is found murdered in St Kilda`s grounds, initial but extensive investigations find no culprit, so the case is shelved. One year later, Holly Mackay, a boarder at the school, presents Cold Case`s Detective Moran with a postcard which she has found on the noticeboard called the “Secret Place”, where the girls of St Kilda`s are allowed to place cards to “let off steam” anonymously.
This card bears the legend “I know who killed him”. Who placed it there and why do it now?

Moran takes the card to the Murder squad in the hopes that he can rekindle the case with their help. He teams up with the irascible and hard-nosed Detective Antoinette Conway, who has allowed 24 hours for them to solve the case. Together they face the girls who were previously questioned – Holly and her friends Rebecca, Selena and Julia and the “Queen Bee” of their year, Joanne, with her group Gemma, Orla and Alison. They were all involved in some way with Chris Harper : will 24 hours be enough in which to tease out the truth this time?

Tana French sustains the suspense throughout the book to the unexpected conclusion. The girls` dialogue is so up to the minute this reader had to take a moment to comprehend at times! The anxieties, the paroxysmic infatuations of modern teenagers, amplified within the hothouse of the boarding school are all there to be relived with regret and relief combined.
I highly recommend this read – it should be a Year 10 Set Book!

Reviewed by Liz.

Thank you to Hodder for sending us a copy to review.

Interview with Jesse Andrews – Author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl


earl cover

I am thrilled to welcome Jesse Andrews to Bookbabblers today. Jesse has answered a few questions for us…

Please tell us a little about yourself

I’ve always written. My first young-adult readership consisted of my sister Eve. She was 4 and I was 10. I taught her to read first with
refrigerator magnets and eventually with my first literary output: stapled crayoned little pamphlets, mostly about foxes and raccoons. This
enterprise probably sounds more generous and pure than it actually was. I would estimate it was 60% my need to have a credulous 4-year-old witness
to the fox- and raccoon-populated world which I had invented, and of which therefore I was the capricious and absolute God; 38% the naked,
slavish pursuit of parental approval; and mayyyyybe 2% the impulse to give the gift of reading to another human being. And sure, that last part
felt pretty good. But nowhere near as good as the other stuff. Also it backfired horribly when she started writing her own little books, and
they were way better than mine.

Please tell us about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and your inspiration for the book

As a teenager, I didn’t have a Rachel, or any classmate who became seriously ill the way Rachel does. I just wanted to write something funny
about something really difficult, and funny in a way that managed not to be cheap or cruel. My grandfather was very sick at the time that I was
getting ready to write the book, so I was thinking a lot about how you never say the thing you wish you had said, or do the thing you wish you
had done, around someone who might not be around all that longer. Because you want it to be enough, and it never is. You want your last exchanges,
your last moments with someone, to somehow contain your entire relationship with them, and everything it could ever have been, and of
course it never will. So I knew if I could make something funny about that, it would probably be something worth writing. That or I would be an
unspeakably terrible person. Or maybe both!

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished the first draft of a second book about three teenagers. It’s called THE HATERS. They’re musicians who meet at jazz
camp and run away to have an authentic band-on-the-road experience. It’s about love and music and the insane quixotic desire to make a perfect
thing. The book comes out next year and I’m working on the script for a film version as well.

What was your favourite childhood book?

Different books for different phases of childhood. A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter. The Phantom Tollbooth. The BFG and James and the Giant Peach.
Redwall. The Foundation trilogy. Dave Barry’s early books. Getting Even and Without Feathers. Scoop.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Stay with it. Don’t expect to get anything right the first time. It’s fine if you don’t. It’s kind of better that way. Take your time shaping
it and listening to how it sounds. Take feedback seriously even if you end up not accepting any of it. Accept that you may have a book or two to
get out of your system before you write anything good. And don’t get lazy and try to write someone else’s thing. Write your thing. Write the thing
that won’t exist unless you put it into the world. That’s sort of the whole point.

Thanks, Jesse.

Interview with Gill Paul – Author of No Place for a Lady


Gill Paul cover

We are delighted to welcome Gill Paul to Bookbabblers today. Gill’s latest book No Place for a Lady is set during the Crimean War and is a fantastic read.

Please tell us a little about yourself
I grew up in bonny Glasgow and now live in North London, where I swim year-round in the Hampstead Heath women’s pond with an amazing bunch of hardy and slightly bonkers women. I’m lucky enough to earn a living by writing books – historical fiction, and non-fiction on a range of subjects, including my international Love Stories series. Hobbies include throwing parties and matchmaking.

Please tell us about No Place for a Lady and your inspiration for the book
My editor suggested that I write about the Crimean War, as we were both interested in the fact that it marked the beginning of middle-class women being able to have a career outside the home. I also found it extraordinary that women still accompanied their husbands to war, and was fascinated to read the accounts of several who were in Crimea. My lovely dad died just as I started writing, and it felt cathartic to explore death and bereavement in the novel as I went through my own grieving process, so that was another inspiration.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on my sixth historical novel, which is set during the Russian Revolution. It’s due to be published in summer 2016 and there’s tons of research to do so I really need to get my skates on…

What was your journey to publication like?
I had written an outline for a novel set in glamorous 1920s Paris but my editor convinced me that the Crimean War was a better idea for now, since there seems to be a lot of interest in wartime nursing stories. So I went back to the drawing board and wrote No Place for a Lady. It was a joy to research because of all the fascinating first-hand material available.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Take your writing seriously: treat it as a job and schedule hours most day during which you will write. My agent always says to me “Write the novel you want to write” but, to be honest, I think you are more likely to get published if you analyse the market and see what readers are buying. Think about angles for promoting your book before you start writing. And if you can write crime, do it! Crime novels always seem to dominate the bestseller lists. Unfortunately, I’m too squeamish!

Thanks, Gill. Look out for our review of No Place for a Lady, which will be up later this week.

You can find out more about Gill on her website:

Review of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews


earl cover

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is the story of Greg S Gaines, his friend Earl and Rachael Kushner who has leukaemia.

Greg is not popular at school and feels like he doesn’t really fit in with any of the different social groups. However, he feels content existing under the radar until his mother tells him he must rekindle his friendship with cancer stricken Rachael. Rachael and Greg were acquaintances some time back, but Greg always made excuses about why he couldn’t hang out with her. Suddenly, it’s Greg who wants to spend time together and without planning to the two become close.

Greg and Earl make films, but they don’t want anyone to know and no one has ever seen them. That is until Rachel comes along. When Rachel stops her treatment, Greg and Earl decide to make her a film but this doesn’t go quite as planned (although it is very, very funny!).

I really loved the structure and dialogue of this book and the way that it deals with grief and illness. Although, it is an extremely sad storyline, there are also lots of hilarious moments that had me laughing out loud. It’s probably one of the funniest books I have read.

It’s a great cover too.
5 stars

Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending us a copy to review.

Review of Alfie in the Bath by Debi Gliori


Alfie cover

We loved reading Alfie in the Garden last year and were thrilled to receive a copy of the second book in the series Alfie in the Bath by one of our favourite picture book authors Debi Gliori.

It’s bath time for Alfie and he imagines that he is on a deep sea adventure. Alfie is a pink crab with snappy claws , a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea and a huge whale among many other under water scenes until it is time for Alfie to help his Daddy tidy up the bath room. Bath time is lots of fun with Alfie Rabbit!

This is a lovely story that is perfect for bedtime reading. We loved the pull out picture scene when Alfie imagines what could be under the water. It is full of beautiful, vivid illustrations, which bring this story of a little rabbit with a big imagination to life.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending us a copy to review.

Review of Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr


Mischief at Midnight cover
Mischief at Midnight is the second book in the Knight’s Haddon series by Esme Kerr.

Knight’s Haddon is a fictional boarding school where Edie and Russian Princess Anastasia are best friends. On the first day back at school after the holidays, a new girl called Janet arrives. Anastasia is immediately annoyed as she is forced to move into a different dormitory. However, Edie is intrigued by Janet who is confident, daring and seems to have a hidden agenda.

When Anastasia and Edie’s friendship hits a rocky patch, Edie turns to Janet. However, Janet seems to push boundaries at the school ignoring all of the rules. Before long, Edie finds herself under suspicion and she begins to wonder who she can really trust at Knight’s Haddon.

This is such a fun and fast paced read with a great school setting. It’s a great series with lots of twists and turns in the plot. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Thank you to Chicken House for sending us a copy to review.

Review of The Chosen Queen by Joanna Courtney


The Chosen Queen

The Chosen Queen is the first book in the Queens of the Conquest trilogy. It begins in 1055 and follows young Edyth Alfgarsdottir as her famiy are exiled and forced to travel to the unruly Welsh court that is ruled by King Griffin.

As a young girl Edyth witnesses the hand-fasting of Lady Svana and Earl Harold and believes that love should be free and not planned. In Wales, Edyth unexpectedly falls for the wild and charming King Griffin and soon becomes the first Queen of all Wales. However, relationships between the Kingdoms start to become even more bitter and Edyth soon finds herself torn between the man she loves and the family and friends she left behind. It is only through the friendship of the Lady Svana that she is able to find out what is happening across the border. Some years later, this friendship will be put to the test for both Svana and Edyth.

This is a fascinating and gripping read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I felt like I was on the edge of my seat during the nail biting battle scenes. It is the first fictional book that I have read set during this period and the historical research is second to none. I was hooked from the very first page and didn’t want to put it down.

Joanna Courtney is a new talent in the world of historical fiction and one that I would highly recommend. I look forward to reading more by this fantastic author.

Thank you to Macmillan for sending us a copy to review.

Review of The Dead Pass by Colin Bateman



When Dan Starkey, Belfast-based PI, is hired to find Billy “the Bear” Doherty by his mother Moira, a former political activist, he knows that it will be a difficult task. Billy is a known criminal with a penchant for taking drugs, last heard of in Londonderry, the seat of where the “Troubles” began: a city which has spawned a new generation steeped in religious divisions and crime. It is winter and Dan has to cross the Sperrin Mountains by the Glenshane Pass in his unreliable motor as the weather deteriorates in order to begin his investigation. He is accompanied by Christine, a 15 year-old girl who has amassed a following proclaiming her to be the new Messiah. She wants to pay an unannounced visit to a church in Derry which needs her support.. or so she says.

They are marooned for the night in a pub on the top of the Pass as the snow falls relentlessly. The weather clears overnight and they are on their way, only for Christine to disappear shortly after their arrival in Derry. Dan is charged with trying to track her down by her guardian. Moira is found shot dead in the river the next day, having failed to meet Dan at the arranged place. With so much to do, Dan`s investigations take him to the dangerous heart of corruption, gangsters and terrorists in a Derry with which he had only just become acquainted.

A pithy, rugged and fast-moving read with Dan`s reflections on his own situation bringing a note of humour and pathos to the risky and often violent situations in which he finds himself. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride!

Reviewed by Liz.

Thank you to Headline for sending us a copy to review.

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