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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Haunted Blog Tour: Joseph Delaney

It's Day 3 of the Haunted blog tour. The perfect literary feast to put you in the spooky Halloween mood.

But first a word from the Andersen Press publicity team:

Joseph Delaney has contributed a story to Haunted, a terrifying collection of original ghost stories from some of today’s leading children’s authors:

Susan Cooper, Joseph Delaney Berlie Doherty, Jamila Gavin, Matt Haig, Robin Jarvis, Derek Landy, Sam Llewellyn, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve and Eleanor Updale.

Haunted is out now in paperback and as an ebook, published by Andersen Press.

I am such a huge fan of Joseph Delaney and so it is a privilege to share with his guest post:


I have been on the road for several weeks promoting the ‘Haunted’ anthology alongside ‘I Am Grimalkin’, the ninth in my ‘Wardstone Chronicles’ Spook’s Series.

            I usually concentrate on the source and inspiration for my own story ‘Castle Ghosts’ as well as pointing out other contributors that readers might be familiar with. My story was written after a visit to Lancaster Castle where I gave a talk in the prison library. Afterwards one of the guards showed me the ‘Witches Well’, the deep, dark, dank dungeon where the real Pendle witches were held during their trial in 1612. He also told me some great true ghost stories about the castle a couple of which I have modified and incorporated into the story.

As I left the prison he said to me: “Listen, Joe, imagine there’s something really horrible down there in the dungeon and it’s guarded by someone like me!” So I did just that!

I was lucky to be able to visit the Witches Well because it was in the prison part of the castle and not open to the public. But things will change. Now the prisoners have been re-located and soon most of the castle will be available for visits. One day you too may be able to see the place where they held the Pendle Witches. But go during the day – not at night! Otherwise you might be haunted!

 Best wishes,

Joseph Delaney

And if that wasn't enough to give you the shivers, Here’s an extract from Joseph Delaney’s story, ‘The Castle Ghosts’:

I looked up at the castle and tried to be brave. Afterall, I wasn’t going to be imprisoned there. I was going to guard the prisoners: murderers, common criminals and convicted witches. That was my job. Or at least it would be once I’d finished my training.

There was a new moon, slender and horned, about to be overwhelmed by the dark clouds blustering in from the west. I shivered but not just with cold. I’d heard stories about the castle after dark, about things long dead that walked its damp corridors.

The building was large and forbidding, set on a high hill about three miles from the nearest town and surrounded by a dense wood of sycamore and ash trees.

It was constructed from dark, dank stone with turrets, battlements and a foul-smelling moat that was rumoured to contain the skeletons of those who had attempted to escape.

I’d never wanted to be on the night shift. But my feelings counted for nothing. Orders were orders and, after just two weeks preliminary training, I’d been told to report one hour after sunset. But, being unused to going to bed in the afternoon, I’d overslept. I was already over half an hour late and castle guards were supposed to be punctual.

There was a clanking grinding sound and then the portcullis began to rise. They knew I was there. Nobody approached the castle without being noticed. Behind the portcullis there was a huge wooden door studded with iron. It was another five minutes before that opened and

I waited patiently as a light drizzle began to drift into my face.

At last the door started to grind back on its hinges to reveal a burly guard. He scowled at me. ‘Name?’ he demanded.

‘Billy Calder,’ I answered.

He knew my name and knew exactly who I was; he’d been letting me in every day for my training. But he was following the rules. Anyone entering had to identify himself.

‘You’ll be working under Adam Colne. There he is,’ he said, pointing to a man in the distance who held a huge bunch of keys. ‘He’s waited over half an hour foryou and he’s not best pleased to say the least. I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes, boy.’

I approached Adam Colne warily. He was big and scary with a reputation for being tough and ruthless. He’d once thrown a trainee guard from the battlements into the moat. The boy had been lucky to survive. Colne stared at me hard, without blinking, making me feel very nervous. It was the first time we’d met and I knew I hadn’t made a good impression.

‘You’re late!’ Colne growled. ‘There are only six guards on the night shift and it’s important that we are all present. So it won’t happen again, will it, boy? Those who work for me never make the same mistake twice. Not if they want to carry on breathing. You have to know your place in the scheme of things. Do I make myself clear?’

‘Yes, sir,’ I answered.

‘Good, as long as we’ve got that straight I’ll forget your lateness and we’ll make a fresh start from now. You’ll be happy here, boy. We’re just like a close-knit family on the night shift.’

I didn’t know much about families because my parents had died when I was very young. I’d been brought up in an orphanage. This was my first job since I’d turned fifteen and had been thrown out to make my own way in the world. I was a stranger to the district and hadn’t made any friends yet.

‘So first things first,’ Colne continued. ‘Do you know why you’ve been transferred to the night shift?’

‘No, sir.’

‘Somebody asked for you. Somebody politely requested your presence. Someone we have to keep sweet. “Let the young Calder boy guard at night,” she begged. Wouldn’t you like to know who she is?’

I nodded. I hadn’t got a clue.

‘Then why don’t you take a guess?’

Who could it be? There were some female as well as male prisoners but certainly no female jailers. The castle was run by men. But as far as I was aware, I knew no one imprisoned in this castle – or any castle for that matter.

‘Is it one of the prisoners, sir?’

‘Her name is Netty and she was one of the prisoners, boy. But she’s a prisoner no longer.’

That didn’t make any sense. If she’d been released why had she requested my presence on the night shift?

‘Where is she now?’ I asked.

‘Mostly she’s to be found in Execution Square. One of her favourite places it is, because that’s where they hanged her.’

My face must have shown my shock. ‘Netty is a ghost, and we need to keep her sweet or it’s bad news for everybody. Some call her “Long-Neck Netty” on account of how stretched her neck was by the rope. But don’t let her overhear you using that name. She doesn’t like it. Even when she’s in a good mood she raps and bangs and wakes up the prisoners. Sometimes she turns the milk sour or gives us nightmares. No, it don’t do to cross Netty. So follow me, boy! If it’s you she wants on the night shift, it’s you she’ll get.’

If that has whet your appetite, you can read the whole of Jamila Gavin’s spine-chilling tale, ‘The Blood Line’, on the Guardian website. Here’s the link to part one:

Many thanks to Joseph for sharing some spooktastic words!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Review: The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Release date: 13 May 2010 (this edition)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target audience: Adult
UK Publisher: Penguin

Summary from Amazon:

Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren’t trusted not to steal the silver... There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared. Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they’d be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell...


First things first. The Help is an adult book. You know what this means! Yes, it was time for the staff book group again. And wait for it.... At last we chose an absolutely brilliant read that everyone enjoyed. EVERYONE! Holy macaroni! I hope this is the start of the brilliant books and not a one-off fluke. Anyway...

The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. It tells the story of black maids working for white women, raising their children, cleaning their homes, keeping their secrets.

There are three main characters who each tell part of the story. At the start of the chapters, it tells you who is speaking. There is Aibileen and she opens the story. Then there is Minny – Aibileen’s friend. They are both maids. Then there is Skeeter who is the daughter of a white woman. Skeeter was raised by her mother’s maid Constantine.

Aibileen is a single woman. Years after her son Treelore’s death, she is still trying to come to terms with his loss. She gives her love to Mae Mobley, the daughter of her employer. She cares so deeply for Mae and one of the most touching themes explored through the novel is the relationship between the “help” and the children they take care of.

Minny is a mother and a wife. As a character, she is an unstoppable force. She also doesn’t know how to hold her tongue and over her working career has burned nearly every bridge with possible employers in the town. Minny is a law unto herself but as the reader you admire her wit, her bravado and her authority. There is also a well-hidden but vulnerable side to Minny. In the black community both Aibileen and Minny are hugely respected.

And then there is Skeeter, who is no less brave than Aibileen or Minny but who has a life blessed with privilege. Skeeter is also struggling with social constraints. Her mother wants nothing more for her than to look pretty, marry a wealthy and respectable man and not raise any eyebrows in the community.

All three have such a powerful story to tell and I can promise you that this book is unputdownable!!!!

There is a growing tension in Jackson. There have been lynchings and beatings as the issue of segregation gains political momentum. White people are actively oppressing black people. They use violence to instil fear into their hearts. The white people who believe that segregation is wrong and actively campaign against are treated as social pariahs, they are persecuted and they also suffer violence.

There is such passion in this book and so much love. Every emotion is convincing. The Help had me holding my breath as I turned the pages. You see, the three main characters make a choice to have their voice heard and in doing so risk everything they have to try to begin to change the status quo. Their courage is heart-warming and inspiring and my heart was in my mouth every time they put their lives on the line.

The Help will take hold of you. It is the type of book where the ending really matters to you. I am so glad I read it. Even if you don’t read adult novels, you really should read this. You will not be disappointed. It will move you.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Review: Blood Red Road

Author: Moira Young

Release date: 2nd June 2011
Genre: Dystopian
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher:  Scholastic


Blood Red Road is dystopian, dark, apocalyptic teen fiction told in a first person present tense narrative.

I came to be reading this book outside of my usual book selection framework. I heard the author speak at a librarians’ conference in June. Back then I thought it sounded really interesting but there was so much going on with the end of term. Then I went through my whole “If I see another dystopian book, I may go mad” phase and I’m still suffering from this affliction. Trends do nothing to excite me about children’s literature and I don’t want to encourage them. So how then did I come to be reading this book? Well it was selected for my writing class group read and like a diligent school girl; I just had to read it. I always do my homework. But I suppose I was reading it in a different way rather than just reading for pleasure.

Saba and her family live in the deserted dusty region of Silverlake. The area has been drying up and times are hard. The Wreckers of the world have long gone and survival is tough in this drought-ridden place. Saba’s Pa hasn’t been the same since their mother died but lately he has been even less attentive, instead he looks to the stars for answers and believes the rain will come. Saba’s twin brother Lugh is her joy and she would follow him to the edge of the world, she’s happy to live in his wake. Emmi is Saba’s younger sister and a curse in her eyes. Lugh is the glue that holds the family together but then one day a band of horsemen stampede into Silverlake and abduct him. Saba does the only thing she can do; she sets out to find him.

The story is told entirely from Saba’s perspective. It is a first person narrative and it’s unusual in its telling because Saba has her own unique way of explaining things. Words are often not full or spelt correctly. “And” is not “and” but rather “an”. There are hundreds more examples of Saba’s idolect. At first glance it is alienating but you soon get into the rhythm of her voice. Consequently, if a single sentence doesn’t fit how you expect Saba to say it, you really notice it. Or I did anyway, but I was looking for these deviations in voice because Moira Young had taken such a bold decision in her way of telling the story.

I want to talk about Young’s use of the present tense: a startling choice and another brave one. I keep asking myself what the story would have been like in the past tense and I can’t see that it would have been all that different. I wonder why she made this choice. Did she feel that we must go with Saba for every step of the journey? Did she not want us to feel that Saba would reach her goal? I’m really not sure. I hope my writing teacher will shed some light on it.

The plot of this book is excellently executed. The twists are well timed and I absolutely believed that Saba needed to find Lugh more than anything else. It wasn’t because I was concerned about what would happen to Lugh but rather that I knew how much he meant to Saba and that was important. It was Saba’s emotional bond to Lugh that was constantly driving the story forward. There was only one point in the story where things slowed and I felt less involved. Without ruining the story for you, Saba finds herself kept in a cage and without other characters for her to interact with, I was bored and asking myself how long would she be stuck there? But soon after, Young introduces a new character and the action picks up and doesn’t stop until the end.

Blood Red Road is a great read. It certainly had me on the edge of my seat and convinced by the main character’s narrative. This book is not your average dystopian doom and gloom novel. It is more of an adventure, more of a return to the wilderness days of bandits and highwaymen. I really enjoyed it.

Thank you to Scholastic for sending the book to review.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Irena's review: Mad Love

Author: Suzanne Selfors

Release date: 6th June 2011
Genre: young adult/ contemporary fiction/ drama
Target audience: 12+
UK publisher: Bloomsbury


When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother -and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth - that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

Irena’s Review:

Mad Love is a bitter sweet story about love, family and secrets that hurt, but must be told. When I first picked up this book, I expected a light, sweet read, and while my reading experience was definitely sweet, the novel also explores more difficult themes. The lightness and the heaviness of the story are perfectly balanced.

Teenager Alice Amorous is the daughter of famous and much loved Queen of Romance. In the eyes of the world, she lives a wonderful, ideal life, but the truth is different. In reality, Alice has to wear a heavy burden on her young shoulders. Her mother suffers from a bipolar disorder (she is manic depressive) and Alice has always lived in uncertainty, fearing those periods when her mother would collapse and spent some time away from her daughter in a mental hospital, while Alice was left to fend for herself. Alice was also always afraid of being separated from her mother, so she pretends that everything is perfectly fine. She lies that her mother is writing a new novel, she signs copies for fans, pays the bills and tries to save her mother's career. Only a few close friends in her apartment building know the truth and try to help Alice in any way, but no one can replace the mother Alice misses. Alice even meets a boy she'd like to date, but she avoids him because she doesn't want to drag him into her complicated life.

One day, Alice meets Errol, a boy her age who claims to be Cupid, the God of Love, and who demands that Alice write down the story of his tragic love: the true story of Psyche and Cupid. Alice, believing Errol to be nothing but a disturbed boy, tries to avoid him, but he is determined to make her believe, no matter what it takes, and it is then that strange things begin to happen to Alice. Torn between trusting Errol and believing that she has inherited her mother's illness, Alice is propelled into a chaotic adventure that has everything to do with love.

I truly liked all the characters in this novel, especially Alice, the heroine of her own romantic adventure. Alice is a smart girl who only wants to be normal and live an ordinary life, but instead she has to cope with difficulties of life. What I truly liked was that depression was a topic that was explored throughout the story. It is an illness that affects Alice's life in great measure. She constantly worries about her mom, fears that she might become manic depressive herself and is also - expectedly - angry at life. The story views depression in a healthy way, pointing out that this illness does not mean a person is crazy, but that the sufferers need help and support of those around them. It is also shown that the depressive person's environment suffers too; no one wants to see their loved one so spiritless and sad, and at times they just want it all to stop and for things to return back to normal. Anger is part of the healing process. I think depression is well and fairly explored.

There is also the story of Cupid and Psyche, to which the author added new twists that I enjoyed very much. They endeared Errol to me even more than he already did himself, as well as his need for the truth to be told. The importance of truth is stressed in this story and Alice gradually learns that the truth, as painful as it might be, is always better than hiding and lies, and it can be quite a relief once you're exposed it.

There is one thing that I found the novel was missing. Namely, at one point Alice begins to write her own novel, but her writing process is not given enough attention. As I believe that writing a book is a big step for Alice, as well as a way for her to explore a new side of her, some stress should have been put on the Alice's creative process.

All in all, I can honestly say that this was a highly enjoyable read than turned out to be different from my expectations. I actually think that the cover should be different, as it is a bit deceiving. The story is bitter and it is sweet, but most importantly, love triumphs in the end. I recommend the story to all who believe that to be true.

Becky says: Irena, I can see why you think I’d like this book. I’m a hopeless romantic and if love triumphs in the end then surely I would be a gooey fan of this. It definitely sounds deeper than the cover suggests it to be. Lovely review.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending the book to review.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

British Books Challenge: Are you the future?

Hello Challengees, hope you are all rather chipper!

There are only three months left to complete the challenge. I'm no longer convinced that I will reach 50 books.

But, I suppose it is not the outcome that matters but rather the intention and the effort that went into trying. If you do not make your goal, rest easy because you tried and I'm sure in the trying you read more British Books than you would have otherwise. So dig deep and keep going!

Now the purpose of this post is not to be a motivational butt kick but something altogether different.

Next year this blog may disappear entirely, it may still be here but it may change form, at this point I do not know. It kinda depends on the team blog and my teammates are not the most forthcoming of bloggers even if they are two of my very favourite people.

But I have reached at least one decision, 2012 will be time to hand the baton for this challenge to another British blogger.

Could it be you?

If you're thinking, yes please! I guess leave me a comment and we'll take it from there. If you'd rather not leave a comment, you can email me (the bookette @ googlemail.com). If more than one person would like to host the challenge, maybe we can think of a fun way to win the job. It could be a nice interactive way to end the year. We'll see...


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Review: When God was a Rabbit

Author: Sarah Winman

Release date: Paperback 12th May 2011
Genre: Modern Fiction? Literary Fiction?
Target audience: Adult
UK Publisher: Headline


When God was a Rabbit is a story of a brother and a sister; it is a story of friendship, love, loss and that intangible old thing: time.

Elly is the narrator of the story and it is told in two parts. The first part is her journey through childhood and the second part is her journey through adulthood. Trying to put into words what this book is about without giving the plot away is really hard. Elly as a child has a unique relationship with her brother Joe. They grow up in an adorable family which is full of love and eccentric characters. But they are bound by a secret that locks Elly into a character which becomes timeless. She is both a whimsical child and an aged philosopher. It is a rather strange combination and I honestly couldn’t work out at times how old she was meant to be. At the very beginning of the book I couldn’t even work out if she was a boy or a girl and I think this is deliberate. She exists beyond the boundaries of “normal” and so cannot be so simply defined by a label of gender or age.

Suffice to say that growing up; both Elly and Joe carry the weight of burden on their young shoulders. They have a deep bond which was a delight to read. In fact I really felt that this was a book not to be rushed. I needed time to digest in my mind and clarify what the author was trying to portray through the characters. Even if this was very much open to interpretation.

Elly’s comfort from the agonising secret lies in her friend Jenny Penny. To Elly, she is the embodiment of a miracle - a girl of her own age who understands her. They embark on adventures together and they find solace in their togetherness. Jenny’s mother is a troubled soul who really needs a mother to care for her. Jenny longs to be part of Elly’s family. One of the things that I loved about Elly was her welcoming of Jenny into her family. She was happy to share them and didn’t feel any jealousy when Jenny was shown love. Elly knowing that she is different is just happy to know that she is not alone in her difference.

There were times reading this book when I felt so comfortable that I could have been listening to a lullaby. There were other times where I just sat motionless with the shock of what was revealed as I turned the page. There were times when I lost all hope and thought this book was full of tragedy. In the end I think that the book is about faith. We need faith to love and not live a life apart from others. We need faith that we belong in this world. We need faith in ourselves to conquer our demons and live free from fear. Above all we need faith that we are all essentially good.

When God was a Rabbit is a whimsical novel of childhood and yet also a book about the dark places that live inside us. It is about friendship and how together we can make those dark places recede and the light places shine. It is beautiful and thought-provoking and highly accessible.

You may have heard about the new Tesco Book Blog. Well in a way I came to review this book through a new venture for them but actually this is my own copy of the book which was a gift from my boss in the summer. I made that sound complicated... anyway... here is a link to the book on the Tesco online thingy: http://www.tesco.com/tescobooks/when-god-was-a-rabbit/G3N-9J2Y.prd?skuId=G3N-9J2Y&pageLevel=sku

Thanks for all the lovely comments you've left on this review. I never realised people following me were interested in adult literary type fiction. You're all full of surprises!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Irena's Review: The Name of the Star

Author: Maureen Johnson

Release date: 29th September 2011
Genre: thriller/ YA /paranormal
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: HarperCollins

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humour, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Irena’s Review:

The Name of the Star puts the famous, gruesome and still unsolved murders committed by Jack the Ripper into modern-day London, re-inventing them in a new light and through the day of an ordinary teenager, Rory Deveaux, who gets sucked into the centre of the action unexpectedly and involuntarily.

A true Southern girl from Louisiana, Rory moves to England with her academic parents, making East London her new home for a year. She struggles as she tries to adjust to a completely new way of life: a new culture, a new school, new friends and a possible new romantic interest. One day, when Rory has a little accident during dinner that changes her significantly and when anew Ripper begins to prey on London more than a century after the original murders, Rory's life becomes completely unhinged as, somehow along the way, she manages to become the new Ripper's most coveted victim.

The setting of this novel is truly wonderful. Rory's public school (which is a private school in American lingo) is set in East London, more precisely in Whitechapel, where Jack the Ripper, the notorious and still unidentified serial killer, killed his five victims in 1888. Therefore, Rory is right at the centre of the dreadful new Ripper murders from the star. The weather is often gloomy and rainy, which adds to the feeling of darkness and anxiety that accompanies the murders. This time, the police know when and approximately where the Ripper will strike again, which definitely creates natural suspense and keeps the reader biting their nails as one wonders whether the Ripper will escape justice again or get caught. I can definitely compliment the author for creating such a dark, Gothic atmosphere.

Johnson adds a new, supernatural spin to the Jack-the-Ripper legend and it this the brutal killer's true identity, combined with Rory's new talent, which puts Rory in grave danger. The original plot and all its twists provide the reader with a thrilling, adrenaline-filled read. There were a few times when the motives of the characters were unclear to me at first, and the explanation of the "secret police" which appears in the novel puzzled me at first, too (there were some grey areas I had to fill with 'colour'), but by the end of the novel, things finally become clear and unravel in a satisfactory manner.

Rory's character is a rare gem. It seems that female protagonists in YA literature follow a certain pattern, but Rory stands out. She's a happy Southern girl who goes on an adventure. She's proud of her heritage and doesn't hide it from her new English friends, while at the same time she is willing to learn their ways. She possesses the right amount of doubt, but she is also willing to keep her mind open. She acknowledges her fears, but forces herself to be brave for a good cause. She's smart and loves her (slightly) quirky family. Rory is a character that is easy to love. The other characters compliment the story well and I found myself caring for all of them.

All in all, The Name of the Star is a cleverly constructed thrillers that features suspense, horror, humour and romance. It is a must-read for those who are morbidly curious about the Ripper, like myself, and I definitely recommend it to all who love a good and original thriller.

Becky says: Thank you for the fantastic review Irena. I just knew you’d love this one. It sounds so dark and Gothic and very scary. I’m impressed that the author could take such a notorious crime and make it her own. Maureen Johnson must be quite a writer.

Both our thanks go to HarperCollins for sending the book to review.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Midwinterblood Blog Trail: The Unquiet Grave

I am delighted to be taking part in the Seven Event Midwinterblood Blog Trail. Here is the extraordinarily talent Marcus Sedgwick with a guest post for you to enjoy.

Short stories and twisted tales.

I love stories. I’m a writer, so that probably sounds a bit stupid. Of course I like stories, but I really really like short stories. So when I wrote this book which is composed of seven parts, each one like a short story, I also decided it would be fun to take things even further, and have a story within a story. The Unquiet Grave, the fifth part of the book, and whose titles derives from an old English folk ballad, is a ghost story, told from within a ghost story. If that sounds complicated, it isn’t too bad when you read it, I hope, though it did cause me a few headaches at the time. It is also the world’s first lesbian ghost story, though I would love to be proved wrong about that, and probably will be. (Answers on a virtual postcard, please!)

That’s why I like short stories: you can do odd things within them, experiment a bit, try things you might not want to risk trying in a whole book. Many writers made almost their whole career out of them: Poe would be a good example, many writers wrote many alongside their longer works: such as Hawthorne, and many writers never touch the form at all. The short story is particularly suited to certain genres as well, I find: science-fiction and ghost stories must be among the best examples. So The Unquiet Grave is my small offering to the traditional ghost story, with a couple of slight twists.

- Marcus Sedgwick – 8 October 2011
Photo by Kate Christer

Thank you Marcus. My favourite short stories are those of Angela Carter. But I really think I should read more.

Readers, there is some extra special content that you can enjoy by following this link: http://bit.ly/MWB_stories

If you’d like to know more about Midwinterblood, you can find my review HERE.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

BBC: October Review Link Up

Well September was actually a good month for me. I read five British books even if I didn't quite manage to get all the reviews posted.

These are the book that I read:
The Thief Taker's Apprentice by Stephen Deas
Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould
Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Not bad. Not bad at all! I really enjoyed all of them but my favourite was Midwinterblood with The Thief Taker's Apprentice coming a close second.

Which British book did you read last month really enjoy? Let me know in the comments...

Anyway, I'm sure you're all keen to know the name of the winner of the September book which was The Spook's Apprentice. The winner was... Jenni of Juniper's Jungle.
Congratulations. I will send you an email.

The October prize will be a copy of Velvet by Mary Hooper.

Now let's link up those October reviews. I know this is going to be a challenging month for me because I'm reading for my WIP, the staff book group and the writing class book group. It doesn't give much time for fitting in those all important British authors.

Oh and before you do that I want to give a huge shout out to Michelle at Fluttering Butterflies who has now read her 50th British book. What a star!

If you want to know which British books are released this month, check out Karen's post over at Reading Teenage Fiction.