Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Thriller

Something In The Water by Catherine Steadman

Today I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Something In The Water  by Catherine Steadman.

The perfect couple. The perfect crime?

“Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?  Wonder no longer. It takes an age. However long you think it takes, double it…”

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough; Mark is a handsome investment banker with a bright future. They seem to have it all, until Mark loses his job and cracks start to appear in their perfect life. But they’re determined to make it work. They book their dream honeymoon and trust that things will work out – after all, they have each other. On the tropical island of Bora Bora, Mark takes Erin scuba diving. Mark is with her – she knows he’ll keep her safe. Everything will be fine. Until they find something in the water…

Erin and Mark decide to keep their discovery a secret – after all, if no one else knows,
who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events which will endanger everything they hold dear.

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I read this book pretty much in one day.  I am not normally a book a day reader but this was completely unputdownable.

We begin near the end.  Something has happened.  Someone has died and it looks pretty darn bad for our protagonist Erin.  Told in first person we see events unfold as she takes us back .  ‘I’m not a bad person. Or maybe I am.  Maybe you should decide.’ she tells us and so it begins.

Erin and Mark are the golden couple.  He a successful banker, she an up and coming documentary film maker, beautiful house and their whole future ahead of them.  A few months before their wedding Mark loses his job.  They’re not worried though, he was looking for a change and he has contacts, there are doors that will open for him.  Aren’t there?  Soon the wedding is done and they are flying to Bora Bora and their dream honeymoon.  They couldn’t be happier.

Everything is blissful but storm clouds are gathering.  They decide to take a diving trip, just the two of them with nothing but blue skies and water that goes on forever. But something lies waiting in the water, something that they decide to keep secret. No-one knows, so surely no harm can come of it and somethings are best left hidden… aren’t they?  Except the secret becomes a dark cloud, unsettling the calm, tranquillity of their new marriage.  Someone knows.

This is a strong, accomplished debut and a thrilling read.  The story arc is wonderful and keeps you guessing right until the last few chapters.  I enjoyed reading through Erin’s eyes. It kept the tension high and she is a fascinating character.  Her current documentary project adds another level of tension as she delves into the lives of three criminals just as they are coming to the end of prison sentences.  It certainly makes you question if a person is truly bad just because they have been convicted of a crime.  The convicts are all fascinating characters, all with very different crimes and with very different ideas for their rehabilitation.  I was constantly questioning where things were going, who knew more than they were letting on and if Erin was or wasn’t herself a bad person.  Things are rarely black and white and for this aspect I think this would make a fantastic book club choice.  There are plenty of ‘what would you do?’ moments that I’m sure could raise some lively debates.

There is already lots of hype surrounding this book.  It was published in hardback last summer and was selected for the Reese Witherspoon Book Club.  It has also been optioned for adaptation by Twentieth Century Fox with Reece Witherspoon producing.  I think this will adapt brilliantly.  I just hope they keep the home location here in the UK rather than moving to America as was done in the movie adaptation of Girl On a Train.

In a nutshell this is a fantastic debut, a thrilling read and one I thoroughly recommend.  Absolute perfect escapism. 

Something In The Water will be published in paperback by Simon & Schuster on May 16th.  It is currently also available on eBook, audiobook and in hardback.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater of RandomThingsTours for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and thanks to her and the lovely people at Simon & Schuster for my review copy.

About the author

Catherine Steadman

0Catherine Steadman is an actress and writer based in North London. She has appeared in leading roles on British television as well as on stage in the West End, most recently in Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution in 2018. In 2016 she was nominated for Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in Oppenheimer. She is best known for her role as Mabel Lane Fox in Downton Abbey. She grew up in the New Forest and lives with a small dog and average sized man. Something in the Water is her first novel and her second is due for release in early 2020.

You can follow Catherine on Twitter at @catsteadman

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Blog Tour, Books that adults should read, Fiction, YA, Young Adult Fiction

All We Could Have Been by T.E.Carter

Today I’m thrilled to be talking All We Could Have Been by T.E.Carter as part of the #BlogTour.  T.E.Carter will also be sharing her Top Five Books too… so read on dear reader, read on.

“I have one goal: Survive a full school year – 180 days – hiding behind a new name, new home and new persona.”

Every year, Lexi starts somewhere new and every year she has to leave. All she wants is to disappear, to go somewhere where no one knows about her brother.

But this time things are different. She is making friends and she might even be falling in love. But none of it is real. When they find out who she really is, she will lose everything. She can never run away from the truth and what her brother did.

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Lexi is running from her past.  She craves anonymity, unable to deal with sharing the real her and where she comes from.  With memories of an horrific event that left her both physically and mentally scared, Lexie finds it hard to cope and suffers extreme anxiety.  Starting yet another new school, she knows she is never safe and that once they find out about her they’ll all turn on her and she’ll end up running again.  Yet for the first time in five years she actually feels like she belongs and she begins to trust again.

It’s impossible to run away from a past that won’t stay buried but perhaps this time Lexie is tired of running.  Perhaps this time she has something worth fighting for. What comes next is a story of courage and a fight for survival and acceptance.  Beautiful, compelling and utterly heartbreaking, this is another amazing novel from T.E.Carter.  All We Could Have Been shows that we can’t always control what happens to us but we can learn to accept and cope with it and that I think is an important message.  This is a wonderfully thought-provoking YA novel that covers themes of trauma, self harm, anxiety and OCD.  But more importantly it speaks of survival and learning to live again.

‘But then I think about the good stuff…And it’s all reason to fight for myself, but then…then my brain does what it does, and the world becomes chaos and confusion, and I can’t do it anymore.  I just wish I was doing it right.’

Thank you so much to wonderful Eve at S&S for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for sharing this amazing book with me.

About the author

T.E. Carter

Top Five Books –

A caveat here: This list could change on any given day, but here are five books I
enjoyed that are on my mind right now!
1. A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin: With Game of Thrones wrapping
up, this series is clearly on my mind. The reason I really love this book is
because it captures everything that the show lacks, and that’s the quiet in-
between moments. I love the show (although I’m saying this with no idea how
Season 8 will play out and I’m a bit wary of how I’ll feel when it’s done), but as
with any adaptation, there are those little character moments that get left off
the screen. There’s an intimacy to the narrative that would be impossible to
translate to screen lest the show be 30 episodes per season, and this book
seems to be the place where the road really split for the characters.

2. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger: I know. It’s about as generic and
cliché as you can get, and Holden’s a pretty divisive character. But when I
was growing up, there wasn’t much out there in terms of YA. You could keep
reading children’s books; you could move to adult writers like Stephen King;
or you could read teen horror like RL Stine and Christopher Pike. While I
actually loved those books, there was nothing in them that reflected back my
own experiences, but when I first read The Catcher in the Rye, I felt like the
world made a bit more sense. My small town felt just a bit bigger; my
experiences and perspectives felt just a bit more “normal;” and my fears felt
just a bit less scary.

3. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton: I’m not sure why this book is on my mind, but
maybe it’s just the changes of the seasons in New England. What I love about
this story, though, is the absolute commitment Wharton has to truth. It’s a
short read, but it’s one of the most devastating stories I’ve ever read. I’m a
really big fan of novels that don’t try to stick a pretty bow on life, and this novel
does the opposite. It’s brutal.

4. Man-Eaters by Chelsea Cain: This comic series isn’t that far along right now,
but it’s amazing. It’s fearless, in-your-face, feminist satire, and I highly
recommend it if that’s your thing!

5. Life is Strange and Before the Storm: Not a book, but I’m cheating. Not only is
the narrative incredible across both games, but Chloe Price is one of my
favorite characters of all time from any medium. I also think it was genius to
put out Life is Strange first; all your actions come to a close only for you to get
Chloe’s story after the fact, and if you saved Arcadia Bay, playing through
Before the Storm is haunting.

T.E. Carter was born and raised in New England. Throughout her career, she has done a lot of things, she has always loved to read and still loves stories in any medium (books, movies, video games, etc.). When she’s not writing, she can generally be found reading classic literature, obsessing over Game of Thrones (100% Team Lannister), playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge-watching baking competitions. She continues to live in New England with her husband and two cats. All We Could Have Been is her second novel for young adults.

@hashtagereads #AllWeCouldHaveBeen

All We Could Have Been by T.E. Carter is out 2nd May (£7.99 Paperback, Simon & Schuster UK)

Author Letter:

Dear Reader,

Thank you for sharing in Lexi’s journey. ALL WE COULD HAVE BEEN stems from several personal experiences and outside influences, but I mostly wanted to think about how much control we have (or should have) over our own narratives. I also thought about how this is even more significant when processing trauma or grief, and Lexi was created from that.

Our world moves so quickly, and while that has a lot of benefits, it also means we have been conditioned to think and react almost immediately. As a result, our personal narratives are often shaped outside of ourselves, crafted from one piece here and there, until a series of stories are united into a cohesive whole. Rarely, though, does that whole reflect the truth of the people we are, instead illustrating the perceptions of the circle of people around us.

Through this novel, I tried to talk about taking back your own narrative. While our pasts do define and shape us to some degree, we are also so much more than external factors that we can’t control. Traumatic experiences can change how we think, and they often limit our ability to believe in our own agency. We all deserve to find and reclaim our own truth, though.

Thank you for reading and for giving Lexi (and readers like Lexi) the power to regain her story.

Regards,

TE Carter

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Suspense, Thriller

We All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for We All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla.

Think Contagion meets The Da Vinci Code in the next heart-stopping
thriller from the internationally bestselling author Daniel Kalla.

A critically ill patient lies dying in a remote town in Italy. Alana Vaughn, an infectious diseases expert with NATO, receives a desperate call – she must fly to Italy
immediately and confirm what everyone already suspects… that the dying woman has the plague, a merciless disease that kills in days.

When Alana arrives, her worst fears are confirmed. But the patient isn’t just dying of the plague – she has the strain of the plague known as the Black Death, one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, which eight hundred years ago killed more than a quarter of the world’s population. And if Alana and her counterpart at the World Health Organisation, Byron Menke, can’t track down the source of the disease…then it will be the end of them all.

We All Fall Down Cover

I thoroughly enjoyed both The Da Vinci Code and Contagion so this novel appealed to me straight away and I wasn’t disappointed!  We All Fall Down is as fast past and deadly as the plague that sweeps through Genoa and beyond.  We begin on the construction site where an old monastery has been pulled down to make way for a new development.  An old monk turns up on a daily vigil to the site with warnings of the consecrated ground they are working on.  The workers pay no heed and carry on with their work until one collapses, coughing up blood.   So begins a disease that spreads with unrelenting speed; children, adults, men, women and even animals are struck down.  The World Health Organisation begin to investigate alongside NATO. Dr Alana Vaughn comes to the conclusion that the victims are suffering from The Black Death.  The question is not only how to stop it but if they even can? They need to find out where and how a disease centuries buried came to be. It’s a race against time as the disease spreads further and further, killing without discrimination.

This is an absolute page turner that I couldn’t read fast enough.  It filled my sleep with dark shadows and even when awake my mind kept returning to the story as I eagerly awaited my next opportunity to read on.  Daniel also takes us back to the 14th-century as the Black Death tore the small town of Genoa apart.  Can it survive a second time?  Indeed, can the world?  Thoroughly recommended and I will definitely be seeking out more by Mr Kalla.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

We All Fall Down has been published by Simon & Schuster.

About the author

Daniel Kalla

Daniel Kall Author PictureDaniel Kalla is the international bestselling author of Pandemic, Resistance, Rage
Therapy, Blood Lies, Cold Plague, and Of Flesh and Blood. His books have been
translated into eleven languages, and two novels have been optioned for film. Kalla
practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Visit Daniel at danielkalla.com and follow him on Twitter at @DanielKalla.

 

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

55 by James Delargy

Two Suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints. 

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers – he was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim. Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55. Gabriel is the serial killer. 

Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins needs to find out who is telling the truth – and quick. He is forced to call in Mitch, his former partner and now insufferable superior, a partnership which dissolved in acrimony years earlier. Can Mitch and Chandler uncover the truth, before the 55th victim is taken?

James Delargy has written one of the most exciting debuts of 2019. He masterfully paints the picture of a remote Western Australian town and its people, swallowed whole by the hunt for a serial killer.

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Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for 55 by James Delargy.  I can’t believe that this is actually a debut!  It’s very well plotted and shows incredible promise from this new author.  I can’t wait to see what he brings us next.

For a brief time we enter the small, remote town of Wilbrook.  A community where the local police sergeant knows all his residents.  His small team are like a second family to him and life is quiet.  That is until one day Gabriel walks in to his station claiming to have escaped from a serial killer, a man called Heath.  Of course things become complicated when a man called Heath arrives at the station claiming that Gabriel kidnapped and tried to kill him.  This is what we do know as we go into the story and James skilfully carries us through, leading us to conclusions and then shattering them along the way.  The twists and turns kept me on my feet and although I thought I knew what was going on, he made me constantly doubt myself right the way through.  It made for exciting reading.

I was immediately on Chandlers side and I can’t tell you how many times I would have quite happily punched Mitch in the face.  His arrogance, lack of empathy and the underhand way in which he treated Chandler, left me wondering just what had gone on between these two men who had once been ‘friends’.  As the story unfolds we also flash back to a time when both men were newly instated as officers and worked together on a case searching the harsh Australian outback for a lost teenager.  That case had a lasting impression on both men and it’s not surprising that it now comes back to haunt them.  However, no one could have foreseen the devastating consequences that it would have brought so many years later as Chandler and Mitch attempt to put their issues aside and work on this new case.  Old ghosts are hard to bury though and soon the investigation becomes personal and very deadly.

The two suspects also made a lasting impression and my mind changed on many occasions as to which one was the guilty party.  Now it’s not often that I get spooked by a book whilst reading during the day but this one certainly had me on edge.  Snuggled up on my sofa, alone in the house and suddenly every creak and groan of my surroundings became an ominous sign.  My pulse raced and yes I was very nervous when nature called and I had to venture upstairs. I had to check EVERY ROOM for goodness sake.  This is an absolutely riveting read and one that had me on the edge of my seat right from the very start. The ending left me with my heart in my mouth as James tormented my imagination right to the very last word. I’m thrilled to discover that there may be a film adaptation and hope that comes to fruition.  I urge you to read 55 and thoroughly recommend it!

About the author

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives.  He incorporates his diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing.  55 is his first novel, which has been sold in 19 countries so far and optioned for film by Zucker Productions in partnership with Prodigy Pictures.

You can follow James on Twitter at @JDelargyAuthor

For more information visit his website at Jamesdelargy.com

55 is published by Simon & Schuster  on the 4th of April. Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour which runs until the 10th of April.

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Blog Tour, Books that adults should read, Debut, Fiction, Teen, Time to talk, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction

The Burning by Laura Bates

NEW SCHOOL.

TICK.

NEW TOWN.

TICK.

NEW SURNAME.

TICK.

SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES?

ERASED.

There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life.

Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.

At least that’s what she thinks.

Until the whispers start up again….

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So today I am thrilled to be hosting the Blog Tour for The Burning, the first YA novel by Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project.  Laura is the author of three non-fiction titles exploring gender inequality and the difficulties still facing girls and women in the world today.

Last week I was invited along to the launch of The Burning and to listen to Laura in conversation with Anna James at Foyles Bookshop.  She was incredibly inspiring to listen to, especially after reading The Burning just a few days before.

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This book is incredible and as a piece of YA fiction very, very important. The Burning is not only a great piece of fiction, but will also help others who suffer from any similar form of abuse and bullying.  Anna is a character that sadly many girls and women will be able to identify with.  In the author’s note at the back of the book Laura yells us that ‘almost everything that happens to Anna is based on the real-life experiences of students I have worked with in schools, or young people who have contacted me online.’  I find it absolutely shocking and this book, I hope, will give those who face such experiences the courage to speak out and, at the very least, to know that they are not to blame. There are SO many discussions that this novel can inspire. I urge you to read it, no matter what age or gender.

Anna’s world  falls apart when she shares an intimate photograph with someone she trusts.   To use something so intimate that has been shared with trust is an even greater betrayal and yet she is the one who is vilified.  This isn’t a simple girl against boy story.  It shows the power that rumour has and the effect it can have over people.  ‘A rumour is like a fire.  You might think you’ve extinguished it, but all it takes is one spark…’ Girls, boys and adults are seen as behaving in a terrible, unacceptable manner but we also see great courage and support within the pages of this story too.

‘The Burning tells the story of fifteen-year-old Anna who has moved to a small Scottish village with her mother.  There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life. Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.  At least that’s what she thinks… until the whispers start up again.

Desperate for a distraction to escape the brutal bullying at school, Anna finds herself in a history project about a young girl, Maggie, who was accused of witchcraft hundreds of years before.  Anna finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of Maggie, a girl whose story has terrifying similarities to Anna’s own…

The Parallels between the persecution of medieval witches and the social burning of modern day Anna become unnervingly apparent.  the reader will be left in no doubt: it’s time to extinguish society’s sexist attitudes.’

I found this book deeply unsettling and I believe that parents, teachers and adults in general should read this story. It gives us an insight into what our young people face. It stirred certain memories hidden in my subconscious. Those moments growing up that we ignore and try to bury. Yet in comparison, back in my teenage years, we had so much less to contend with.  Social media has moved the goal posts dramatically and opens up the possibility of being mercilessly hounded and bullied at any time of day or night to an ever growing audience.  We need to sit up and take notice now.  With an ever growing online-presence,  our past and experiences really never leave us. They are there for all to see and the level of abuse possible through these mediums is scary. The dual time frame brilliantly shows us that the problems girls face aren’t a contemporary problem and that even after years of feminist campaigning things haven’t changed, there are simply new ways for women to be persecuted and mistreated. The term witch-hunt for so many girls and women is still very real.  This snowballing form of abuse at times can feel like a form of torture. The constant ping of social media notifications gradually pushing them to the limits and offering no escape or peace of mind.

As a parent I will look to inform my son. As a Librarian I will make these stories accessible to my students and teachers. As a book blogger I will share the word as much as I can. This book has made me stop and think. I was shocked at how those who should have been protecting Anna were simply not equipped to do so with either experience or understanding.  It has made me so much more aware. Feminism isn’t just about equality. It’s about a woman’s right to feel safe. To not be used and abused simply because she is a woman.

About the Author

Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 100,000 testimonies of gender inequality, with branches in 25 countries worldwide. She is author of Everyday Sexism, Misogynation and the Sunday Times bestseller Girl Up. Laura writes regularly for the Guardian, New York Times and others and win a British Press Award In 2015. She is a prolific commentator, appearing regularly on Newsnight, The Today Programme, Woman’s Hour, Channel 4 News, BBC News, BBC Breakfast and others. She works closely with politicians, businesses, schools, police forces and organisations from the Council of Europe to the United Nations to tackle gender inequality. She was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2015 and has been named a woman of the year by Cosmopolitan, Red Magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Sunday Times Magazine. Laura is a contributor at Women Under Siege, a New York-based project tackling rape in conflict worldwide and is patron of SARSAS, Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support.

You can follow her on Twitter: @EverydaySexism and Instagram @laura_bates_

To find out more about the Everyday Sexism Project or to add your voice visit the website here.

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Blog Tour, Children's Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the latest spell-binding novel from Michelle Harrison – A Pinch of Magic. I’m also thrilled to share a piece from Michelle herself on the inspiration behind the story. Read on dear reader, read on.

How stunning is this cover? Believe me it’s even more beautiful in the flesh, shimmering with gold foil. The detail is amazing and you’ll catch many glimpses of the story on this eye-catching cover.

I absolutely adored reading A Pinch of Magic, it’s a wonderful story full of adventure, courage and magic. Betty Widdershins is a sparky young lady desperate for travel and adventure but she might just get rather more than she bargained for. This is a story about magic but it’s also a story about family, love, and that nothing good can come from jealousy and hatred. Recommended for age 8+, I think this is a joyous read for anyone. Michelle is a mesmerising writer and I was completely held within her spell from the moment I picked the book up.

Synopsis

It was on Betty Widdershins’ thirteenth birthday that she first learned of the family curse…

Living on the isle of Crowstone, surrounded by eerie marshes and a formidable prison, the Widdershins sisters: Betty, Fliss and Charlie, are desperate for adventure. But when Betty strays too far from home, she learns the awful truth: a deadly curse has haunted her family for generations. If Betty and her sisters leave Crowstone, they will be dead by sunrise.

But the knowledge of the family curse comes with a bit of excitement too! Each sister inherits a magical object, been passed down the family: A scruffy carpet bag, a set of wooden nesting dolls and a gilt-framed mirror – none of them are what they seem.

Will they be enough to help the Widdershins break the curse? Or will the sisters have better luck with a mysterious prisoner who claims he can help them?

And now lets here a little from the author herself…

Author, Michelle Harrison

Widdershins and Witches: the inspiration for A Pinch of Magic – by Michelle Harrison

I came across the wonderful, whimsical word ‘widdershins’ in one of the spell books I often leaf through when researching magic for my stories. It’s a word commonly associated with witchcraft, and means the witches’ path/ the wrong way/ anti-clockwise. In the past, even observing someone walking ‘widdershins’ was enough to warrant an accusation of witchcraft. These days, when it is used by modern wiccans it’s usually for the purposes of banishing or eliminating something. It’s also believed to be unlucky. Naturally, I fell in love with the word immediately, and decided it had to be the name of the family in my next story.

Originally, A Pinch of Magic was based on witches, a subject I find endlessly fascinating. In the first three chapters and synopsis which I sent to my editor, Betty Widdershins discovered she was a witch on her thirteenth birthday and had to master a signature spell linked to an ordinary object of her choosing.


The idea stemmed from a snippet of local folklore linked to the Essex village of Canewdon. According to legend, there will always be six witches in the village, and whenever a stone falls from the church tower walls it signifies that one of them has died and been replaced within the coven.

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While I loved the idea of all this, there was a problem. My publisher already had several other books about witches lined up, so my editor asked if we could rethink the witch element but retain certain parts of the folklore. Following some discussion and brainstorming I came up with the idea of a family curse, which allowed me to keep the ‘fairy tale’ aspect of the falling stones. Of course I then had to give Betty some siblings to ramp up the tension and danger of the curse, so Fliss and Charlie were introduced. As the youngest of three sisters myself, it felt like a good dynamic and the ‘power of three’ fits with my liking of fairy tales.

The witch became a sorceress, the church a tower, and the stones falling from it a warning of imminent death for the cursed girls. Finally, the ‘signature spell’ became a set of three magical objects handed down the family – after all, gifts and curses go hand in hand. The name of ‘Widdershins’ still worked perfectly with the idea of being cursed; being both unlucky and symbolic of the girls trying to ‘banish’ the curse from their lives. But I have to admit that it’s such a favourite word of mine that I was intent on using it – and I’m thrilled that it continues to be part of my working life, because I’m already working on the Widdershins’ next adventure . . .

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So there we have it, the synopsis and the inspiration. There is already so much buzz surrounding this book. It is also a Waterstones book of the month (with some absolutely gorgeous special purple edged copies). This is a story to entrance young readers and add fuel to reading for pleasure, a story that will be treasured. I am so happy to hear there are more Widdershins’ adventures coming our way, these characters have found their way into my heart and I can’t wait to see where their story takes them next.

If you’d like to discover more about Michelle and her writing then take a look at her website here.

Thank you to Michelle for sharing Widdershins and Witches and her stunning photographs for me to feature on my blog.

Thanks also to Olivia Horrox at Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy for review and for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

 

Blog Tour, Children's Fiction, Christmas 2018

The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller with Illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

So, earlier I spoke about Ben. Now I would like to mention the beautiful illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.

A great story is made even greater by wonderful illustrations and the combined effort of the Simon and Schuster design team and Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini have brought us an absolutely stunning hardback book that will earn precious space on your bookshelf.  It really is a keeper.  The cover is stunning, with gold foil that brings it to life and makes the book literally jump out at you when you see it.  There is so much detail throughout the entire book  and Daniela has created a gorgeous selection of illustrations that complement Ben’s writing brilliantly.  She really is a great talent and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to ask her the following questions.

How do you begin to create the wonderful art work that brings Ben’s story to life?

‘After having some initial ideas, inspired by the story, I always plunge myself into extensive visual research, mainly to find the kind of visual reference that will support me in drawing characters and things that feel real, that feel like they could exist in a parallel dimension of wonder. The drawing stage always feels quite technical in some ways for me; this is where I sweat to get the composition, anatomy ad perspective right. While the painting stage is really where all the magic happens for me… where I focus on getting the atmosphere and feel right for the picture. And where I feel like I’m in my element. Each stage is very important. But some are more “nerve-wracking” than others….’

If you could choose one other classic Christmas story to illustrate, what would it be?

‘A Christmas Carol of course :), although I would also quite like to make my own version of A Nightmare Before Christmas…’

Do you believe in Father Christmas?

‘Well, I wasn’t sure to begin with if I have to be honest… but reading ‘The Night I Met Father Christmas’ has definitely put the doubts to rest in my mind! I’m definitely going to be putting out mince pies and brandy for him this Christmas!’

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I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for this wonderful book.  Tomorrow I will be kicking off the first day of the official blog tour and I’ll be running a giveaway to win your very own copy The Night I Met Father Christmas so do keep your eyes peeled and don’t forget to follow. 🙂

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