Review of The Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates: The Attack of the Giant Sea Spiders by Gareth P Jones

19.05.2015
14:41

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The Steampunk Pirates are back for the third book in this fantastic series and this time they have joined forces with Dread Captain Inkybeard and his girlfriend; a squid called Nancy in order to do some spying.

However, they soon find themselves stuck in a sticky situation and must try to escape from both Inkybeard and some giant spiders. Will the Steampunk Pirates be able to escape or are their days on the high seas over?

I love this series and each book is just as fun to read. It is great for both boys and girls and the black and white illustrations really bring the characters and scenes to life. I can’t wait for the next instalment.

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

Guest Post by Gareth P Jones – Author of The Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates

18.05.2015
07:14

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I am delighted to welcome Gareth P Jones to Bookbabblers today. We will be reviewing Attack of the Giant Sea Spiders later today.

Writing for Children and Adults

Recently, someone asked me, “What kind of books do you write?”
I was about to reply, “I write books for children,” when I realised that this is the short answer.
The long answer is that children’s books are never written exclusively for children.

A variety of grownups read my books before it even comes out. These people include my wife, members of my family, my editors (and others who work in the publishing house), the illustrator and so on. All these grownups have their input at various stages in the writing process, and try to ensure that the final book is vastly better than the first draft.

Once the book is out in the world, there are even more grownup readers. Some read them for fun; some because it is their job. The lucky ones read them for both those reasons. Some advise children which books to read – and which to steer clear of. These grownups include librarians, bloggers, book reviewers and buyers for bookshops. They all have their opinions, of course, positive, negative, constructive and descriptive and some are even kind enough to share these opinions with the rest of the world.

Then there are the grownups who read my books out loud. These are the parents, teachers, teaching assistants and voice actors who record the audiobooks. For this reason, I try to read my book out loud at too.

So, with all these grownups reading my books, the question is, should I ignore them, pretending they are not there and write exclusively for children?

Personally, I like to acknowledge my grownup readers by occasionally throwing some jokes their way. For example, in The Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates there is a mechanical parrot. He’s annoying, repetitive and mostly just offers obvious observations on what’s going on. He’s called Twitter. I hope that he’s a funny character whether or not you know or care about a website with the same name.

Another example is in the third book in the series, Clash of the Rival Robots:

“Good evening,” said the messenger, “My name is Ralf and I will be your messenger this evening. Please hold.”

He picked up the lute and started to play. The duke and admiral looked at one another in confusion.

“Hold what?” snapped the Duke.

Ralf stopped playing, pulled out an envelope from his pocket and handed it to the duke. “Please hold this. It’s the message.”

I am not expecting every reader of the book to have experienced annoying hold music but I don’t actually think that matters. I remember laughing at lots of things I didn’t totally understand including The Young Ones, Blackadder and Monty Python’s Flying Circus). These were TV shows written by grownups for grownups but enjoyed by children and I suppose, in answer to the question I kicked off with, “I write books mostly read by children but sometimes read by grownups too.”

Review of It Girl by Katy Birchall

12.05.2015
17:17

The It Girl

Anna Huntley is not your average It Girl. In fact, she is not even popular at school – especially after setting the second most popular girl at school’s hair on fire in an incident with a Bunsen burner! However, when her journalist Dad Nick gets engaged to world famous actress Helena Montaine, Anna finds herself thrust into the spotlight with the paparazzi watching her every move. Furthermore, her new soon to be step sister Marianne loves the spotlight, is very glamorous and seems unimpressed by the idea of being related to geeky Anna. Will Anna cope with her new found fame or will she be seen by everyone as unpopular?

I really loved the structure of this book with a lot of the conversations taking place over email and voicemail. I also adored Dog, Anna’s Labrador.

This is a fantastic debut novel that is full of laugh out loud moments. Katy Birchall is a new talent in the YA world and I can’t wait to read her next book.

5 stars

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

Review of Bride without a Groom by Amy Lynch

11.05.2015
08:33

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I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Bride Without a Groom by Amy Lynch today.

Rebecca is certain that her boyfriend Barry is about to propose. In fact, she is so certain that she has already tried on a wedding dress, booked a honeymoon and even contacted the vicar for prospective wedding dates. There is, however, one small hitch – Barry doesn’t propose when she expects him to.

When Barry suggests that he needs some time to think and goes away to Thailand for a conference, Rebecca sees her plans disappear before her eyes. So, she sets about to win Barry (and her dream wedding) back. Will Rebecca be able to convince him that she loves him and doesn’t just want a wedding?

Bride without a Groom is a very funny and well written book. Lynch vividly brings her characters to life and they felt like old friends by the end of the book. I really enjoyed the wedding planning element of the story.

This is a hilarious novel that I absolutely loved. I am looking forward to reading more by this author.

Interview with Katy Birchall – Author of The It Girl

07.05.2015
07:57

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I am delighted to welcome Katy Birchall to Bookbabblers today. Katy’s fantastic debut novel The It Girl is out today.

Please tell us a little about yourself

I’m 26, live in London and am lucky enough to be the Deputy Features Editor for Country Life magazine, as well as the author of The It Girl. I’m a massive book-nerd and (slightly weirdly) obsessed with dogs.

Please tell us about The It Girl and your inspiration for the book

The It Girl came to me when I had finished university and was trying to get a job in journalism. As it is such a competitive industry I had been doing months of internships on various publications and one day I got in the shower and was freaking out about the idea that I might never get a job on a magazine. I thought “I wish I could be an It Girl because I bet they never have to worry about things like this” and the idea of an unlikely It Girl struck me. I started chapter one that evening and got my job at Country Life magazine three weeks later.

The It Girl is about Anna, a fourteen-year-old who isn’t very popular and a bit of a nerd. Her journalist father gets engaged to a famous actress out of the blue and suddenly Anna is thrown into the limelight and has to deal with being famous. It’s a really fun comedy (I hope).

What are you working on now?
I am currently working on the second book in the series and when that’s completed I’ll be starting work on the third. They are both going to be released next year and I can’t WAIT. Well, that is if my neighbour stops playing the oboe every time I sit down and try to write. It can be rather distracting…

What was your journey to publication like?

I think I may have been in a daze the whole time because it was all so surreal. It was a wonderful journey and I’ve been lucky enough for The It Girl to find its perfect home at Egmont. It has been a lot of hard work as I work towards deadlines around my full-time job at Country Life, but I have loved every single minute and if I could go back to last year when I got signed by Egmont and the publishing process all began I wouldn’t change a thing (except maybe the decision to wear a Lady and the Tramp jumper in one of the videos of me talking about the book).

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

It’s so important to read as much as possible so that you have the tools to develop your own style. Most importantly, if you think you have a good idea then don’t give up! I had days when I walked away from my laptop in a strop because I was getting so frustrated. But then I’d always come back to it a day or so later because I knew that the idea was there somewhere, I just had to make it happen.

Thanks, Katy. Look out for our review which is coming up later today.

The It Girl

Review of Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp

03.05.2015
19:30

Ivy Pocket

Ivy Pocket is a twelve year old maid who finds herself in the service of the elderly Countess Carbunkle in Paris. However, the two don’t quite see eye to eye and when the Countess flees as far as she can from her to South America , Ivy is left penniless and without a job. Then, out of the blue, Ivy is summoned by the bedridden and dying Duchess of Trinity and asked to carry out a secret mission – she must deliver the priceless Clock Diamond to Matilda Butterfield in England and present it to Matilda at her 12th birthday ball.

It sounds simple to Ivy and in return she will receive £500 – more money than she can imagine. However, what she doesn’t realise is that people will do anything for the diamond. Even kill.

Anyone But Ivy Pocket is a hilarious tale that had me laughing out loud. Ivy leaves a trail of mayhem and destruction wherever she goes, although she can never understand why people seem angry with her. It is an action packed, fast paced book that had me laughing out loud from start to finish.

Ivy Pocket is a fantastic character and this is without doubt one of my favourite books of the year so far. I hope that there might be more adventures from Ivy Pocket to come.

5 stars

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

Review of Dirty Bertie: Jackpot! by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts

02.05.2015
06:53

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Jackpot is the twenty fifth book in the Dirty Bertie series. There are three stories in this book: Jackpot!, Crumbs! and Demon Dolly!

In Jackpot!, Bertie’s Gran calls and starts to tell him that she has won the lottery. Bertie immediately drops the phone and runs off unable to believe how lucky his family are. Before they have any more details, Bertie starts to imagine how he will spend the money.

In Crumbs!, Bertie and his class at school have to make a cake for a teachers leaving party. Bertie is sure that any cake with chocolate will be good. However, he is careless with the ingredients and the end result looks somewhat questionable. In Demon Dolly!, Bertie treads on his sister Suzy’s doll and has to figure out how to cover up what he had done.

This is another fantastic Dirty Bertie book and I think that Jackpot is probably my favourite in the series so far.

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

Review of The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

29.04.2015
11:47

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Have you ever been drawn into a story so deeply that you forget where you are? This is one of those compelling reads. When the luxury yacht Lady K is repossessed in Lisbon to be returned to Reykjavik, she arrives home with no passengers or crew aboard. Aegir, who works for the repossession company, his wife Lara and their eight year old twin daughters Arna and Bylgia were supposed to be on board, returning from a holiday in Lisbon. They, the captain and two crew members have disappeared completely.

Aegir`s elderly parents are looking after the youngest daughter, two year old Sigga Dögg while her family are away on holiday. They discover that they would be the beneficiaries of their son`s life insurance policy in the event of Aegir and Lara`s deaths. The total amount they would receive would be 2 million Euros – a vast amount of money which would help them bring up Sigga Dogg, even though the social services are insisting that this is not practical because of their advancing years. As yet, there is no proof of death, so they approach lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir for help with the insurance claim.

Thora works with the police to unravel what could possibly have happened during the voyage, starting with Aegir and his family. He offered to be a replacement crew member for the one who had broken his leg the day before the yacht was due to sail and cancelled their flight home. Mysterious things happen on board – communications are not working and they have to deal with an Atlantic storm. The yacht is supposedly cursed: does evil stalk the decks? Are they all dead or are they just lost at sea? These are the questions which must be answered.

A potent and absorbing tale, we learn from first-hand knowledge the events on board and the mystery being untangled on shore. There are many red herrings to distract Thora, including the disappearance of the former owner`s beautiful but spoilt young wife. You will not see the dramatic denouement coming. Very well worth curling up with for a rip-roaring sea saga! Well done, Yrsa.

Reviewed by Liz.

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

Giveaway and Review of The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

28.04.2015
07:44

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I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley.

The Seven Sisters: Maia’s Story is the first book in a seven part series. It follows the six D’Apliese sisters who start to discover their own heritage when their adoptive father Pa Salt dies suddenly. Each daughter is left a clue to where she came from and Maia’s leads her to an old aristocratic mansion in Rio de Janeiro.

Once in Rio, Maia begins to trace her family with a few clues but never expects this to lead her back over eighty years to the time when the Christ the redeemer statue was being designed. Izabela Bonifacio is only eighteen when she travels to Paris with the da Silva Costa family before she is to be married. In Paris at the studio of renowned sculpter Paul Landowski, she meets Laurent Brouilly and realises that nothing will ever be the same and that she will be forced to choose between family loyalty and love.

By the end of the book I felt as if I knew Maia, Izabela and Laurent. It is so beautifully written that despite racing through to find out what would happen, I didn’t really want the novel to end.

This is a mesmerising book that I didn’t want to put down. Riley weaves a sweeping magical story that takes the reader from Switzerland to 1920s Brazil and Paris. I am desperate to read the next book in the series!

5 stars

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

We have one copy of The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley to giveaway. To enter, please re-tweet this post. Open to UK entrants only. Closes 1st May 2015.

Review of Rabbits Don’t Lay Eggs! by Paula Metcalf and Cally Johnson-Isaacs

24.04.2015
14:06

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Rupert the Rabbit is bored, he can see all of the animals on the neighbouring farm and thinks that they must be having so much more fun than him. Rupert decides to burrow under the fence and see what it is really like, but he doesn’t make a good impression when he pops out of the ground right underneath Dora the duck’s nest (we thought this was very funny). The farm is different to how Rupert imagined and he realises that every animal has a job, but if Rupert wants to stay what can his job be?

This is a lovely story with sturdy pages and a very cute, glittery cover. The illustrations are really fun and it is perfect to read together with little ones.

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

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