Friendship Tales, Guest Post, Personal and Social Issues, Relationship Stories, Romance, Teen

Truly, Wildy, Deeply by Jenny McLachlan – reviewed by Eva

I’m thrilled to say that fabulous book loving Eva is back with us on Tales Before Bedtime with another super review. This time she’s chatting about Truly, Wildy, Deeply by Jenny McLachlan.  This is a delightfully charming teen read with characters you can’t help but fall in love with and one that I hope Eva would enjoy.  Let’s find out what she thought…

Eva’s thoughts

This book is an incredible twisted tale. Two people come together and do the opposite of what they what they were planning to do.

Annie is starting college and has Cerebral Palsy. She could not wait for a fresh start and not to feel different from the rest. She wanted nothing to do with falling in love and to focus only on friendships and her school work.

Then there was Fab. He is tall, wild and energetic. He left his home in Poland and is willing to stand out. He wanted to have some adventures, and he thought the greatest adventure was love, unlike Annie.

Then the two people were partnered up in class.

What will happen to these people?

The characters were exciting to read about because of their different personalities. This book was a fun book to read and I only found it a little bit tricky to follow. That is why I thought this book is for 13-15 yrs as it has a mature themes that some younger readers may not understand.
I loved this book because of the humour and adventures that Fab and Annie have together. I can’t wait to see what the author has next in store for Fab and Annie.

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Synopsis

Annie is starting college. She can’t wait. No more school, no more uniform, and no one telling her what to do. It’s the start of a new adventure and Annie’s not going to let anyone or anything get in the way of that. Freedom matters to Annie. She has cerebral palsy and she’s had to fight hard to get the world to see her for who she truly is. Then she meets Fab. He’s six foot two, Polish and a passionate believer in…well, just about everything, but most of all Annie and good old fashioned romance. The moment Fab sees Annie, he’s wildly drawn to her and declares she must be his girl. Annie’s horrified. She doesn’t want to be anyone’s anything, especially if it means losing her independence. But then Annie finds herself falling for Fab. As things go deeply wrong, Annie realises that love can make you do wild, crazy things, and so she sets out to win his heart with a romantic gesture of truly epic proportions!

Fans fell in love with the warmth, wit, romance and fierce friendships in Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb, Sunkissed and Star Struck. Jenny McLachlan writes the best kind of real-life fiction – with big themes and characters you’ll love, her books go straight to your heart.

Discover more about author Jenny McLachlan by visiting her website here.

You can follow Jenny on Twitter: @JennyMcLachlan1

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Thank you so much Eva for your super review Eva.  It’s been an absolute pleasure as always.  Until the next time…

 

 

2+, 3+, Picture Books, Summer Reads

Summer Reads – Lula and the Sea Monster

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

Lula and the Sea Monster by Alex Latimer

Recommended for Young Book Lovers aged 2 & above…

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Here’s the synopsis:

A moving story of nurturing friendship and standing up for others.

Lula loves living by the beach. But soon, her family must leave their home to make way for a new highway. Counting down the days to her move, Lula walks along the beach to find keepsakes and discovers something much more valuable than a souvenir. Lula makes friends with a small sea monster that she names Bean. Each day Lula returns to the beach to feed him. And each day Bean grows bigger and bigger. But what will happen to Lula’s new friend once she moves away?

From popular children’s book author-illustrator Alex Latimer comes this delightfully odd story of friendship and bravery.

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This is an absolutely gorgeous picture book about standing up for what you believe in and the people you care for. It also looks at caring and protecting our natural environment and the animals and creatures that live in it.

Lula and the Sea Monster was published by Oxford university Press and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.). 

Paperback ISBN: 9780192759528

Oxford Owl is a great website where you can access fun activities, free eBooks and essential tips to encourage a love of reading.  Visit here for more details.

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Literary, Review

The Seventh Train By Jackie Carreira

Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Seventh Train by Jackie Carreira. This is a wonderfully touching and unique novel that I heartily recommend. It will forever change the way I look at trains and their passengers. Jackie proves that they are the perfect stage to find the fascinating, raw stories being carried out both around and within us.

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Moving from stage to page, The Seventh Train has taken the scenic route from Jackie Carreira’s award-winning play to a second novel that promises to be as well-received as the first (Sleeping Through War, 9781788038539) The Seventh Train is a ride – a ‘road movie’ on the railways. It’s a journey that Elizabeth invented; the only original thought she has ever had in her previously uneventful life. Unbeknown to her, she is not travelling alone. If only she’d pretended that the spare seat was taken. 

Although, by turns, hilarious and life-affirming, part of the story tackles serious issues of suicide and mental health, specifically the alarmingly high incidents on public transport. As Jackie says: “This is something that’s been in the news a lot recently, especially as suicide rates on the UK rail system increased by 9.1% last year. It’s a hugely important issue. Having said that, it’s not a gloomy novel at all, but actually full of hope and a good dose of wit!”

It’s a project that has been part of Jackie’s life for years. Originally conceived as a stage play, it was her theatrical debut and went on to become one of the winners of The Kenneth Branagh 10th Anniversary Award for New Drama at the Windsor Fringe Festival. From there, it just kept chugging along until it became the novel Jackie is releasing now. 

With a wonderfully eclectic cast of characters, The Seventh Train takes its
passengers on a journey from the tragic to the strange, arriving finally at hope.

By turns heart-breaking, thought-provoking and hilarious, this tale is a life-affirming exploration of the human spirit via the British railway timetable!

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I was intrigued by the idea of this novel. Not only has it been on quite a journey of it’s own but the premise of a ‘road movie on the railways’, a woman travelling alone and the eclectic mix of characters she meets along the way was enticing. There is an undercurrent of depression constantly beneath the surface. That sense that we are completely and utterly alone in our despair (or numbness) touched upon in a unique way as our protagonist Elizabeth believes that she is the only traveler on this particular journey.

This isn’t a dark novel though, far from it.  There is a wonderful lightness of touch with the writing. Suicide and depression are heavy subjects to convey and yet in a way The Seventh Train not about these things but surviving them. We meet Elizabeth at a low point in her life, she feels numb and doesn’t really know what she wants or where she wants to be. She just knows she wants to be anywhere but here. So begins a journey of ‘the seventh train’. In her own strange way this journey is her escape. She is in control but also not having to decide where to go. As I said, she doesn’t know where to go but simply wants to be anywhere but ‘here’.  There is something about Elizabeth that I found vaguely familiar. That sense of disappointment in life, of wanting to disappear and yet also wanting to be found. She is compelling company.

The Seventh Train began it’s journey as a short stage play with only two characters. It quickly travelled on eventually becoming a novel and, as Jackie states in the introduction, ‘picking up new passengers along the way’. The passengers of course are the story.  Her characterisation is wonderful and she brings each one of this strange mix of individuals to life through their own voices and stories. Elizabeth craves solitude but no matter how hard she tries to camouflage herself, to disappear amongst the generally detached commuters, someone begins to take notice.

This is an incredibly uplifting, well written novel. I absolutely adored being part of the journey. Suicide is a very difficult subject but Jackie’s skill as a writer gives an edge of hope rather than despair. The story did make me think. Not only about my own life but of those around me. People today generally walk in a bubble most of the time, plugged in to some device and as far removed from each other as is possible. The Seventh Train reminds us that we’re not alone. That each and every one of us is travelling on their own journey but there are always other travellers alongside us, even if we don’t see them at first. Some with eager eyes and hope and others with heads lowered barely caring where they end up. The important thing is that we don’t have to make that journey alone. There is always someone out there to share our story with. We just need to look up long enough to see them.

I do hope the stage version pops up on my own journey before too long. I’d absolutely love to see it. Perhaps even a television adaptation???

Many, many thanks to the fabulous Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.  This is a wonderful novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and I’m so pleased I can now tell people about it and send it further on it’s way.

About the author

Jackie Carreira

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Jackie Carreira is a writer, musician, designer, co-founder of Quirkhouse Theatre Company, and award-winning playwright. Born in Leicester, she moved to London as a baby and went to school in Hackney, but also spent part of her early childhood in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Destiny thereby dictated that her formative years were heavily influenced by her working-class upbringing and cities beginning with the letter ‘L’, for some cosmic reason that she has not yet figured out.

Jackie now lives in the English county of Suffolk with her actor husband A J Deane, two cats and too many books. One of her favourite places to write is in railway cafes. The Seventh Train was originally born over several cappuccinos at Paddington station.

The Seventh Train is published by Matador where is can be purchased in paperback or ebook. It can also be ordered via your local indie bookshop or via Amazon.

You can discover more about Jackie via her website here.

You can follow Jackie on Twitter at @JCarreiraWriter.

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Picture Books, Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

Pencil Dog by Leigh Hodgkinson

Pencil Dog written and illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson

Now to share something for our younger book lovers. Pencil Dog is a stunningly illustrated picture book about ‘memory, remembrance, and how those who live on in us.’

With Pencil Dog ANYTHING is possible.

We have adventures together.

But I’ve noticed he’s getting smaller.

What if,

one day,

he disappears…?

A moving and inventive celebration of friendship and imagination from author-illustrator and co-creator of acclaimed TV series Olobob Top.

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Oh but this is SUCH a beautifully illustrated and charming story.  Full of bright colours, the warm and friendly art work make this an absolute delight to share with young book lovers.  The story is a gentle tale showing us that although loss can make us sad, there is still always something left behind of the people or things we miss.   Pencil dog fills this little girls life with fun, adventure and friendship and it’s hard when he disappears.  However she soon discovers that he is still there with her in other ways.  I love the way Leigh has used something relatable in Pencil Dog without causing too much distress or worry for our young readers.  A lovely, tender story filled with friendship, adventure and memories.

About the Author

Leigh Hodgkinson graduated from the University of Hull in 1998 with a first in graphic design. She went on to study Animation Direction at the National Film and Television School where she made two short animated films, Excess Baggage and Novelty. Novelty toured the world at festivals bringing home numerous awards. She is passionate about writing, making things and daydreaming.

Her picture books include Colin and the Snoozebox, Limelight Larry and Scrummy! She also co-created the hit CBeebie’s children’s television programme Olobob Top. Leigh lives and works in Lewis with her husband, animator Steve Smith, and their two young children,

Pencil Dog was published by Simon and Schuster in hardback on 7th February 2019 with the paperback edition following soon on the 13th June 2019.