Interview with Sophy Henn – Author of Pom Pom the Champion

31.08.2015
15:31

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Today, we are pleased to welcome Sophy Henn to Bookbabblers…

Please tell us a little about yourself

Well, I am a mum and a writer/illustrator of children’s books. I live in Sussex, not too far from the seaside, drink a LOT of tea and wear my new pink coat as often as possible. Previously I have worked in advertising and designed greetings cards, before I went back to school to study for an MA in Sequential Illustration, with the ultimate aim of creating picture books. I still cannot believe my luck that I actually get to do that! This year I was also lucky enough to be Official World Book Day Illustrator 2015, which has been amazing.

Please tell us about Pom Pom the Champion and your inspiration for the book

Pom Pom the Champion is my latest book and the second in the Pom Pom series. Pom Pom previously got the grumps, but now we see him embracing the concept of winning, and maybe running with it a bit too far! Pom Pom is a young panda who is experiencing and trying to work out a lot of new situations and emotions. Obviously he doesn’t always get it right, who does? I know I still get out of bed on the wrong side!

As for inspiration, I once witnessed a very cute and usually very lovely little girl stomping around furiously, and no one knew why, not even her. She was ever so angry and telling everyone to “GO AWAY”, until eventually everyone did. Then she became rather sad and a little bit worried. I found this sweet and quite funny, so I made a little comic strip about it. As that little girl is now taller than me I decided to change her into a Panda, and Pom Pom was born.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on the next Pom Pom book! Pom Pom is on another voyage of self-discovery, but this time he gets a lot of help from his friends, Scout, Buddy, Baxter and Rocco. I have another book coming out in-between Pom Poms, called Pass It On, which is out in February 2016. This features human beings! Though you might spot a Pom Pom in there, I like to include characters from previous books into new ones. For example there is a Where Bear? bear in every Pom Pom.

What was your journey to publication like?

I decided I wanted to try to write and illustrate picture books when I was reading Charlie and Lola to my daughter, who is now 13! So that gives you a rough idea of how long it took from admitting this was what i wanted to do to actually doing it professionally. As I mentioned earlier I went back to school, which gave me the justification to spend time developing ideas. But I have to say once I found my ace agent, my route was a very pleasant and quite speedy one.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Write! I realise how ridiculously obvious that sounds but it’s the truth. Sometimes ideas pop out of your head fully formed and sometimes there is just the core of a idea, whichever way it happens it will probably require editing and honing, rearranging and refining. Some days it feels almost easy and others its like getting blood out of stone, but whichever day you are having, keep writing and I am almost sure that at some point something good will appear. I remember Noel Gallagher saying on Desert Island Discs that he believes songs are falling out of the sky all the time you just have to be in the right place to catch them, so he writes every day, ready to catch! I take comfort in the fact that geniuses have to work hard and consistently at it, because I know I do!

Thanks, Sophy!

Pom Pom the Champion is available to buy now.

Blog Tour: Review of Storm Horse by Nick Garlick

26.08.2015
08:28

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Today, we are thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Storm Horse by Nick Garlick. Here is our review…

Storm Horse is a beautifully written book that follows twelve year old Flip when he moves to the remote Dutch island of Mossum. Flip’s Dad has recently passed away and his mother is missing, so he must move from Amsterdam to live on a farm on the tiny island with his Aunt, Uncle and young cousin.

Flip cannot see how he will ever adapt to his new surroundings when the events of a stormy day change his outlook on everything. A ship sinks in the harsh sea around Mossum and Flip spots a horse struggling in the waves. Risking his own life, he manages to bring the horse ashore but no one knows who it could belong to. It is decided that Flip can keep the horse if an owner cannot be found, but he must do everything himself and make sure that the horse earns it keep to. Flip is determined that the horse, which he names Storm, will stay and with the help of his young cousin Renske and the mysterious ‘ghost girl’ they must try to train him. However, there are some people, especially the Mesman brothers who don’t want Flip to succeed and will do anything to stop him.

I was fascinated by the idea of the lifeboat horses and the way of life for the people on the island. Storm Horse is a fascinating book that I did not want to put down. I would recommend it for both younger and older readers alike. I grew up reading horse stories and it is also refreshing to see a boy as the main character.

This is a really moving and compelling novel that also includes important issues such as bullying, friendship, hope and loss. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

5 stars

You can follow the blog tour tomorrow at: serendipityreviews.co.uk

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

Storm Horse by Nick Garlick out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)
Find out more at http://www.chickenhousebooks.com

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Giveaway – Win 1 of 4 copies of Pirates in Pyjamas by Caroline Crowe and Tom Knight

19.08.2015
06:52

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We are so excited to have 4 copies of Pirates in Pyjamas to giveaway. To enter, please re-tweet this post and follow us on twitter. The giveaway is open to UK residents only and closes on 28th August 2015. Good luck!

The Dead House Mirror Tour – Guest Post by Dawn Kurtagich

18.08.2015
07:08

TheDeadHouseTour4We are thrilled to be taking part in the Mirror tour for The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. Dawn’s guest post is Carly’s top 5 book recommendations and you can read all about Kaitlin’s recommendations over at http://supernaturalsnark.blogspot.com

Carly’s Top 5
Book Recommendations

1. Before I Die by Jenny Downham
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Tessa has just a few months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is sex. Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out. ~ Goodreads Description

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2. She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
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The feeling that coincidences give us tells us they mean something… But what? What do they mean?

LAURETH PEAK’S father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers – a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. When he goes missing while researching coincidence for a new book, Laureth and her younger brother fly from London to New York and must unravel a series of cryptic messages to find him. The complication: Laureth is blind. Reliant on her other senses and on her brother to survive, Laureth finds that rescuing her father will take all her skill at spotting the extraordinary, and sometimes dangerous, connections in a world full of darkness. ~ Goodreads Description

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3. Spirit Fox by Mickey Zucker Reichert and Jennifer Wingert
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Spirit Fox marks the first collaboration between bestselling fantasy writer Mickey Zucker Reichert and talented newcomer Jennifer Wingert.

It is the story of a magic-filled land at war. A mythical battle of gods and goddesses. An epic struggle that could ultimately destroy an entire civilization unless a special young woman, spirit-linked to a fox at birth, can harness the gift that runs like a wild creature trapped within her soul….

~Goodreads Description

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4. The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
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A girl takes over her twin sister’s identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters.

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy’s shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she’s chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy’s world.

When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy’s death and everyone’s grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy’s life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister’s life. ~ Goodreads Description

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5. A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
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I’m the one who’s left behind. I’m the one to tell the tale. I knew them both…knew how they lived and how they died.”

Claire is Ella Grey’s best friend. She’s there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story – as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final.

~ Goodreads Description

Dawn Mirror tour 5

Interview with Caroline Crowe – Author of Pirates in Pyjamas

17.08.2015
06:51

DPWPyjamas

We are delighted to welcome Caroline Crowe to Bookbabblers today. Caroline has answereed a few questions for us about her latest book Pirates in Pyjamas

Please tell us a little about yourself

I live in Hampshire with my husband and three sons and ALOT of books. We’ve just had some building work done on our house so they were all packed away in boxes for a couple of months (the books, not my family), so it’s been lovely rediscovering them all again together. I was a newspaper journalist for 10 years, but I’ve always loved to write in rhyme. I feel so fortunate to be have been able to combine my love of writing and rhyme and children’s books in Pirates in Pyjamas. I also love salt and vinegar crisps, possibly a bit too much.

Please tell us about Pirates in Pyjamas and your inspiration for the book?

Pirates in Pyjamas was inspired a few years ago by my eldest son. He asked me one morning if pirates wore pyjamas and it struck me that that was an excellent question and a perfect opportunity for some silliness. It’s the kind of book we love to read at home – one that (hopefully) makes you laugh and has a few surprises tucked up its sleeve. Captain Grotbeard and his crew are getting ready for bed on board the Leaky Parrot, but bedtime on board a pirate ship might not be quite as you imagined it. .

How long did it take you to write and illustrate Pirates in Pyjamas?

The first draft of Pirates came quite quickly, but it took much longer to get to the final version. Ellie Farmer, my editor, and the rest of the team at Little Tiger Press were amazing and basically gave me a crash course in writing picture books. They were incredibly patient and I learned a huge amount with each draft. Pirates is illustrated by the brilliant Tom Knight. I’m amazed at the way he’s captured the text and brought it to life. His drawings have added another layer of humour to the book. The little details are amazing. I love the fact that children can listen to the story and then discover unwritten things in the pictures for themselves.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished tweaking a text for submission, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will find a home soon. Otherwise I make sure I listen very carefully to what my children have to say because they are an amazing well of inspiration. I need a spark for the next book….

What was your journey to publication like?

An education in patience! I came from an industry where you write something and it’s often published the next day. Children’s publishing is a whole different ball game. I was incredibly lucky that Clare Wallace from the Darley Anderson Children’s Agency wanted to represent me. She is amazing and puts up with my endless questions about how things work. She is also my patience role model. When I found out that someone might want to publish Pirates, I was stunned. It was an incredible feeling. The process has taken over two years, which I never expected at the outset. It can be frustrating if you’re as impatient as me, but there are so many wonderful moments along the way – signing my contract, seeing Tom’s first character roughs, holding the first set of proofs and then the book itself arriving in the post, as well as meeting so many people who are passionate about children’s books. I can’t thank everyone involved at Little Tiger and the DA Agency enough.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I’m still very new at this game myself, but I think reading so many books with my children has been a big help. It’s the easiest and most enjoyable research I’ve ever done. I’ve also learned so much from the editing process, so I’d say grab all the feedback you can get and don’t be afraid to ask questions – everyone wants to help. And the very best of luck!

Thanks, Caroline!

Look out for our review of Pirates in Pyjamas and a giveaway coming up later this week.

Interview with Esme Kerr – Author of Mischief at Midnight

11.08.2015
06:46

Mischief at Midnight cover

We are delighted to welcome Esme Kerr to Bookbabblers today…

Please tell us a little about yourself
Like many authors I am bad-tempered, impatient and egocentric and spend a lot of time shut away on my own, frowning over a computer. When I am working I am horrid, but when I am not working I can be perfectly nice.

Please tell us about Mischief at Midnight and your inspiration for the Knight’s Haddon series
My inspiration for the Knight’s Haddon series came from my own experience of boarding school, long ago. The main thing I remember was that there was no escape from your so-called friends, even when you hated them. But I also remember some girls who preferred school to home: they didn’t mind not escaping their friends because they were so relieved to escape their families! This is the story of Edie in The Glass Bird Girl. But in the second book, Midnight at Mischief, there is an unruly new girl in the second year called Janet and she seems unable to leave her home troubles behind her. She has been sent to boarding school because her mother is working abroad and her father is not capable of looking after her himself. Janet rebels against the school, and wants to escape by getting herself expelled, but Edie – who has been entrusted by the headmistress to keep an eye on Janet – tries to persuade her that boarding school is an escape in itself. Some readers may sympathize with Janet’s rebellious streak, for Knight’s Haddon’s rules will strike many as archaic. But they are all drawn from my own experiences of school – the drawer searches, the letters home, the shopping trips that offered a brief taste of freedom on a Saturday afternoon … after so many years the memories still remain vivid.

What are you working on now?
I’m watching the cast of Knight’s Haddon very carefully, wondering what they’ll get up to in Book 3. One of the peculiar things about writing a series is that by the second or third book the characters become so established that not even their author can control them. I know what I would like to happen in book 3, but Edie has a habit of changing the plot.

What was your journey to publication like?
I initially called the first book in the series ‘The Reluctant Agent’, which turned out to be a prophetic title as the first agent who read it turned me away. But happily the next agent I approached was much more enthusiastic – and, once I had changed the title, I was fortunate enough to be taken on by Barry Cunningham and his inspirational team at Chicken House.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
As Muriel Spark once advised an aspiring author: ‘Write Chapter One at the top of the page, and begin.’

Thanks, Esme.

Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr, out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

Review of A Game for all the Family by Sophie Hannah

05.08.2015
08:07

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This is another of Sophie Hannah`s exceptionally complex and riveting psychological domestic thrillers, this time concerning a high-flying television producer, Justine Merrison, her opera-singer husband Alex and their bright, outgoing thirteen-year old daughter, Ellen.

Justine has had enough of the rat-race of her London job. She and Alex have bought a mansion, Speedwell, in a village on the Dart in Devon and she wants to do NOTHING. Ellen is enrolled in the local but exclusive school, soon after which the mysteries begin. First come phone calls from an eerie-sounding female who calls Justine “Sandie”, threatening Justine and her family`s lives. Next, Ellen becomes distant from her parents, turning into a secretive girl, very possessive of a story she has to write for homework. She has made everlasting friends with a boy called George in her year, who is suddenly expelled from school. There follows a horrific story of how George`s mother, a famous Lecturer in Assyriology at the University of Exeter, will not allow George and his older sister Fleur to have any friends, no television, mobile phone, music, or even to leave the house except to go to school because she believes that her own sister Sandie is trying to kill her – because she knows who murdered their killer sister Perrine. The whole story of the reason for her fear is told through Ellen`s school story, which we read, interspersed with the efforts of Justine to unravel the series of complicated events happening in their new house. Will Justine discover the truth? She has help from Olwen, who lives in a house on the North Circular in London (a house which Justine notices on their journey to Devon) but what lengths must she go to in order to lift the clouds threatening her new life?

Sophie Hannah has the expertise to write intricately woven stories which are fantastical yet real in their telling. The reader`s attention is gripped from the outset and not released until the final outcome. An amazingly cerebral treat of a read!

Reviewed by Liz.

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

Interview with Paige Toon – Author of I Knew You Were Trouble

31.07.2015
23:14

I Knew You Were Trouble_72

I am very excited to welcome Paige Toon to Bookbabblers today, as part of the blog tour for I Knew You Were Trouble.

Please tell us a little about yourself
I grew up mostly in Australia, but would spend half of each year in either America or England. My dad was a racing driver, so it would depend on where he was racing at the time. I didn’t see a winter until I was about twelve when we moved permanently to England. I think my upbringing inspired me to write about different countries in my books. I’ve written nine adult women’s fiction books and they’re set all around the world. The Jessie series is mostly set between Berkshire and LA, the latter of which I researched when I wrote my second book, Johnny Be Good. Now that was a fun holiday…

Please tell us about I Knew You Were Trouble and your inspiration for the book
I Knew You Were Trouble is the sequel to The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson, which is about a fifteen-year-old girl who discovers her real dad is a famous rock star. I first wrote about bad boy rock star Johnny Jefferson in Johnny Be Good, and the sequel, Baby Be Mine. In those books, the heroine, Meg, falls pregnant by accident with Johnny’s baby and she wonders whether he has any other children out there that he doesn’t know about. This gave me the idea for Jessie. I love reading YA, so when I was thinking about writing two books a year and my author friend Ali Harris suggested I make one of them YA, I was very excited about the idea.

What are you working on now?
I’m writing my tenth adult novel, which is about identical triplets who, when they were seventeen, all fell in love with the same boy. Now, in their late twenties, one of them is getting married to him. But there are lots of twists and turns…

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Always write what you love, not what you think you should. If you’re not enjoying what you’re writing, chances are your readers will drift and won’t feel connected to it, so skip to a scene you’re excited about and come back to the hard stuff later when you’re more up to it. Also, consider journalism as a way to get into becoming an author. I worked at Heat magazine as reviews editor and it was a lot easier getting a publishing deal when you’re already a working writer. Work experience is a very good way to get into the publishing industry, but you might have more luck making a good impression if you get work experience at a smaller magazine where journalists have a bit more time to pay you attention! I got one week of work experience at Neon film magazine (it closed down soon afterwards, sadly) and asked if I could stay on another week and clean out their video cupboard. Afterwards, the editorial assistant asked me to do holiday cover for her. When I left, having done a month in total, I asked the editor to please think of me if he heard of anything coming up. A few months later I got a call from the editor of teen magazine Big (another one which sadly closed down), and that was my first job in the industry. I started at the bottom and worked my way up to Heat Reviews Editor.

Can you tell us about your typical writing day?
It has always revolved around my children. As of last September, my daughter went to school along with my son, so I have loads of time to crack on. Prior to that, the only book I wrote without it having to be around children’s nap or short nursery stints was Lucy in the Sky, my debut novel, and I wrote that while doing my full time job at Heat. My most recent book, The Sun in Her Eyes, was the easiest book I ever wrote thanks to school! After the kids go to school, I get ready and catch up on social media and any blogs or interviews I have to do before writing, breaking for lunch and then writing some more. Usually I only really get into the swing of it an hour or two before the kids come home, but it works really well on the whole. I’m very lucky.

Thanks, Paige! Look out for our review of I Knew You Were Trouble, which will be up soon.

TROUBLE BLOG BANNER

Review of No More Cuddles by Jane Chapman

31.07.2015
11:47

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Everyone loves Barry – he is the most huggable creature ever! The problem is Barry is not happy with this at all and just wants to be left alone.
Barry decides to try and make himself look scary in the hope that the animals might leave him alone, he even puts on an angry face and growls. However, this just makes the animals think he needs a ‘shnuggle-buggle’ to stop him feeling grumpy. So, Barry tries to find another who might want to take his place, but the problem was that he struggled to find an animal who wasn’t spiky or stinky. Just as he is about to give up he spots a big fluffy bear, but will this be enough to stop the animals wanting to cuddle Barry?

No More Cuddles is a fantastic picture book with stunning, brightly coloured illustrations. The image of Barry being cuddled by lots of different animals had us laughing out loud. We highly recommend this latest book by Jane Chapman.

Thank you to Little Tiger Press for sending us a copy to review.

Giveaway: Win a copy of No More Cuddles by Jane Chapman

30.07.2015
19:58

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We are very excited to be giving away a copy of No More Cuddles by Jane Chapman. To enter, please follow us on twitter and re-tweet this post. Open to UK entrants only. Giveaway closes 7/08/2015.

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