Book Review: The Huntress – Sea (Sarah Driver)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Egmont

Pages: 336

Release Date: April 6th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the sky, the fire spirits dance and ripple. Grandma says they showed our Tribe that I’d be a captain, before I was even born.

Ever since Ma died, Mouse has looked after her little brother, Sparrow, dreaming of her destiny as captain of the Huntress. But now Da’s missing, Sparrow is in danger, and a deathly cold is creeping across Trianukka .

Review:

This book was sent to me wrapped up in a beautiful piece of fur with a gorgeous bookmark and map in a bottle. It was such a pretty package and the book lived up to it’s wrapping!

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Mouse is going to be captain of the Huntress when she grows up, but for now she has to look after her sickly brother, Sparrow. When their Da goes missing and a mysterious stranger arrives on their ship, things take a bad turn for Mouse.

This felt like a great, old-fashioned adventure story, like ones I loved when I was younger. There’s danger, there are wild beasts and animal friends, magic and fighting and a race to save a loved one. The pace is fast, the story moves quickly from one danger to the next and you’re never bored when reading it.

The language of the book is really distinctive too. Mouse’s voice is so real it was like she was speaking in my head and I could picture her really clearly. In a Q and A in the back of the book, Sarah Driver mentions reading Spellhorn and speaking like the Wild Ones after reading it, and that’s what this reminded me of (also I’d forgotten the name of that book so thanks to her for reminding me!) The Tribe have their own dialect that helps to develop their culture and makes them very memorable. The descriptions are beautifully vivid too; it’s just a delight to read.

I loved Mouse: her impulsiveness and determination and honesty just made her really likeable. She reminded me a bit of Lyra from His Dark Materials. Her ability in ‘beast chatter’ made the creatures around her more interesting too: rather than having standard talking animals, Mouse has a gift that allows her to hear them and communicate back. She talks to her sea-hawk and Sparrow’s moonsprite and uses her gift to help her on her adventures.

This is a really rich, exciting tale, beautifully told and clearly the start of an exciting series. It’s aimed at younger readers but the language can be a little complex and I think it could be a little challenging, but it’s so captivating I think adults and children alike can enjoy.

4

Book Review: The Giant Jumperee (Julia Donaldson, Helen Oxenbury)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Puffin

Release Date: April 6th 2017

Summary:

Rabbit was hopping home one day when he heard a loud voice coming from inside his burrow.
“I’M THE GIANT JUMPEREE
AND I’M SCARY AS CAN BE!”

When Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear and Elephant come to help they are each scared away in turn by the mysterious voice.

He can squash you like a flee
He will sting you like a bee
And he’s taller than a tree!

But who is the Giant Jumperee?

Review:

I haven’t done any Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads in a while, mostly because our local library closed down (boooo) and we haven’t had that steady stream if new books. There’s still tons of his that I haven’t reviewed yet though, so I must start up again properly. This one is a review book which I couldn’t resist because it’s Julia Donaldson!

When Rabbit hears a mysterious voice coming from his burrow he enlists all his friends to try and get it out, but they’re all scared away in turn.

I’m a big fan of Julia Donaldson’s books – I wish I’d read them when I was a child, but I’ve had the next best thing, which is reading them to my younger sisters and now my son. She has a way with words and characters that just makes you smile, and this book was no exception.

The illustrations by Helen Oxenbury really bring the story to life. It’s more realistic than cartoony, like you might be used to with Julia Donaldson’s other books, but it’s really beautiful and she captures the expressions of the animals perfectly. (Googling her as I write this and realised she wrote The Dancing Classwhich was one of my favourite books as a child.)

This is a really fun, charming book and one I’m happy to add to Little Moore’s shelves. I hope lots of children will be enjoying this as a bedtime story soon.

4

Book Review: Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane (Caroline Baxter)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Big Sunshine Books

Pages: 32

Release Date: March 8th 2017

Summary:

Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with ‘lean, mean flying machine’ Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this action-packed rhyming story celebrates ‘Girl Power’ and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!

Review:

One of my secret favourite things about having a baby is reading picture books again – I loved them as a child, loved as a teen reading them to my baby sisters, and now I love them as an adult reading them to my own baby. It’s great to revisit all the classics I loved when I was younger and to come across new favourites too.

Pilot Jane has lots of exciting adventures with her pink plane Rose. But on the day of an important flight, Rose is sick and Jane has to team up with Mighty Mitch, a plane who doesn’t think girls make good pilots. But she proves him wrong and they work together to fly safely.

The illustrations in the book are gorgeous. I love Jane – she’s got a beautiful, cheeky little face that just makes me smile and want to like her. Rose is a very pretty plane, though I have to say I wasn’t too keen on her being pink: I was worried it played into the whole ‘girls like pink’ stereotype. I guess you could see it like that, or you can see it as, hey, girls can be awesome pilots and also like pink. Still, the colours are bright and fun enough to hold Little Moore’s attention for a while and I’m sure he’ll appreciate the story when he’s older.

There’s a lovely message of girl power here that I’m happy to read to my son and would love to read to a daughter if I ever have one. It doesn’t fall into the trap of putting boys down to raise girls up either: after working together with Mitch and coming to understand each other they even change their song from ‘Girl power forever‘ to ‘Girl – and boy – power forever‘ which I really appreciated.

This is a fun, colourful story with a great rhyming scheme and an even greater message. It’s definitely one that’ll be going on Little Moore’s shelves for when he’s older.

4

About the Author

CB Author pic

Caroline Baxter lives in Oxford with her husband and two young children. From an early age she always had her nose in a book – and now does so for a living! Caroline grew up in South Wales and, after graduating with a BA in English Literature from Cardiff University, held a variety of management roles at UK universities including, most recently, at the University of Oxford. The Bear Cub Bakers, her first book, was written while on maternity leave with her daughter. Her second book,Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane, was published recently on International Women’s Day (8 March 2017). Caroline loves travelling, yoga, baking (and eating) cake, dogs, days out and snuggling up with a good story.

Follow the Tour

Pilot Banner1Monday 13th March

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Tuesday 14th March

The Writing Garnet

Wednesday 15th March

An Awfully Big Adventure

Thursday 16th March

Linda’s Book Blog

Friday 17th March

Tales of Yesterday

Saturday 18th March

Big Book Little Book

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Sunday 19th March

Get Kids Into Books

Nayu’s Reading Corner

Monday 20th March

Emma’s Bookery

Tuesday 21st March

Readaraptor

Wednesday 22nd March

Fiction Fascination

Thursday 23rd March

Wonderfully Bookish

Friday 24th March

A Little But A Lot

Saturday 25th March

Sam’s Book Corner

Chrissi Reads

Sunday 26th March

Minerva Reads

Maia and a Little Moore

Book Review: Doing It – Let’s Talk About Sex (Hannah Witton)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Wren & Rook

Pages: 320

Release Date: April 6th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Figuring out how to build and maintain healthy relationships – with your family, friends, romantically and with yourself – is a crucial part of being a teen. It’s not easy though, particularly in a digital age where information and advice are so forthcoming it can be hard to know who or what to believe or trust. Porn is everywhere, sexting is the norm and messages about body image are highly mixed. Hannah combats this by tackling subjects ranging from masturbation and puberty to slut shaming and consent in an accessible, relatable and extremely honest way. She is unembarrassed about bringing little-discussed topics into the open, and as such empowers teens to have the confidence to conduct relationships on their terms, and in a way that they feel comfortable with.

Review:

This isn’t the kind of book I would usually pick up but I was really happy to be sent it to review. I actually read it one day, which isn’t like me, but it was just so easy to read.

I’ve never watched Hannah’s YouTube videos but I could really get a sense of her personality through the book. She says in the beginning she wants it to feel like a conversation with a friend, and that’s exactly what she achieved. It didn’t come across too preachy, it just felt like I was having a chat with a friend, talking about her experiences.

I wasn’t sure what I’d make of this as I’m not really the intended audience. It’s aimed at teens, ones with questions on sex and relationships. I’m a happily married woman with a baby so I think I do know a thing or two about sex and relationships! But I still learnt something from this book, like how sanitary products used to work for our grandparents and how they used to use frogs to test for pregnancy!

As well as Hannah’s stories and advice, there’s comments from friends and experts too. I really appreciated this on the LGBTQ+ chapter especially, as Hannah says she’s not LGBTQ+ herself and it’s better to hear it from those experiencing these things. I also loved the section from Holly Bourne on relationships: she has some brilliant things to say involving Wormtail from Harry Potter!

My 16-year-old sister has started asking me about sex and virginity and also told me some stories about her friends which I found pretty worrying. I’m going to pass this book on to her because I think it’ll be really useful for them all. While I’m glad she feels she can talk to me about things like this, some of it might sound better coming from someone else.

This is informative and manages to stay away from being too preachy. Some of it’s really frank and I found the honesty really refreshing. It’s not sugar coated or prudish and I think a lot of young people will find this book really useful.

4

Book Review: The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 438

Release Date: April 6th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Review:

This is probably one of the highest profile YA releases of the year and after reading it, it’s easy to see why. I don’t feel like there’s a lot I can say about this that hasn’t already been said but it’s so good it needs a review anyway.

Starr is the only witness to the shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Through her grieving, Starr has choices to make about whether she stays quiet or speaks out. She’s used to living a double life between her poor neighbourhood and her fancy suburb high school, but this event brings the two together and makes her choose between the two different versions of herself.

This book is so relevant at the moment with the amount of high profile unarmed shootings that we hear about on the news, and all the ones we hear less about too. I liked that it didn’t present Khalil as a saint: yes he sold drugs, he may have been in a gang – but does that mean he deserved to be shot for doing nothing wrong? The answer to me is obviously not, but the way it’s presented on the news makes people think otherwise.

I thought the way Starr had two different versions of herself was really quite sad. It’s horrid to think that you can’t be yourself around people who are supposed to be your friends because you’re worried about what they’ll think, that she had to make herself stay calm to avoid being seen as an ‘Angry Black Girl’ stereotype.

The characters in this book were all brilliantly written. I loved the different relationships between Starr and her family. The way her parents were written showed them as real, present parents rather than the absent or stereotype ones you often get in YA. They were strict sometimes, often funny and clearly loved all their kids very much. Similarly, the way Starr interacted with her brothers showed real sibling relationships: loving but with plenty of annoyance and teasing.

I know this book is in a setting that’s far from what I’m used to: I’m a white, British woman from a middle-class family so I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be Starr or anyone else in her situation. But it’s so good to read something that’s not about people like me. It’s been said a lot lately but it can always be said more: we need diverse books. We need representation in books for all kinds of people, because everyone deserves to read about people like them.

Starr was taught things in her life that I never had to learn. Her parents gave her a talk to tell her what to do if the police ever pull her over. Keep your hands visible, no sudden movements etc. When I was younger, I was told to find a police officer if I was in trouble but it’s different for Starr. They’re not necessarily going to help her, just because of the colour of her skin. I think we can all get a bit of a funny feeling around police officers – I know I feel guilty around then even when I’ve done nothing wrong – but Starr is terrified around them and that’s not how anyone should have to feel around someone with that power.

I don’t want to write spoilers about how things turn out but I felt it was true to life rather than putting a fairy tale end on things. It did all the things it was supposed to: it made me sad, angry, annoyed that this is a book but that this is actually what happens in real life. We all need to speak out like Starr if we can, add our support to the voices that need to be heard and never stop working to make things better for everyone.

This book deserves all the praise and the hype it’s getting and I really recommend you pick it up. Aside from the important message inside the book, it lets the publishing world know that we want Own Voices stories, we want to read books about a diverse group of people, and by a diverse group of people too.

Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: The Scarecrow Queen (Melinda Salisbury)

Publisher: Scholastic

Pages: 336

Release Date: March 2nd 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

The final battle is coming . . .

As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever . . .

Review:

This is one of my favourite new fantasy series and I was so excited/sad to read this final book. After reading books from Twylla and Errin separately it was great to see their stories come together as they both battled the Sleeping Prince in their own way.

Warning: spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the previous books. You have been warned!

Errin and Silas are prisoners of the Sleeping Prince, victims of his whims and forced to do as he says for fear of the other getting hurt. Meanwhile, Twylla has been left to pick up the pieces of their shattered rebellion.

Before reading this I re-read The Sin Eater’s Daughter and The Sleeping Prince and it was great to reabsorb myself in that world and remember all the events that had come before. On second reading, I didn’t really like Merek until this book. In the first book I found him a bit closed off and up himself, and I didn’t like the things he asked of Twylla. He really came into his own in this book though and I found myself hoping he and Twylla would get together, even though before I was totally Team Leif.

Speaking of which… what a frustrating character! I think some people have found his actions baffling but I kind of get it. He’s like the kid in the playground who sides with the school bully and wants to please him without upsetting everyone else too much. He’ll pull your pig tails but say sorry later. Only in Leif’s case his actions are a lot more serious and can’t be made up for so easily. I won’t say anymore for fear of spoilers but I did like his storyline, despite wanting to give him a good slap most of the time. While I was kind of over the whole him and Twylla thing, I did wish he’d help his sister out more.

The Sleeping Prince was even more wonderful in this book, probably because we got to see him a lot more. There’s a casual cruelty to him that just makes my skin crawl. The things Errin went through while living in the castle with him… *shudders* I don’t know how she stayed so strong, to be honest.

In the last book I wasn’t sure about Twylla when she just announced that she was going to raise an army and fight the Sleeping Prince. But by Gods, she went and did it in this book! I liked that she started off uncertain and got off on the wrong foot (when she started the whole thing with the chamberpots I was rolling my eyes – glad it didn’t work out for her!). She proves herself to be a worthy leader though, and while I understand her frustration at having destinies written for her all the time, she does manage to take this one and make it her own.

The ending was not as bad as I expected. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I was expecting to have Mel drive a knife into my chest and cut a perfect cirlce and drag out my still beating heart… but it was relatively tame. It was exciting and dramatic and yes, a little sad, but it didn’t break my heart too much. It felt like the right way to end things: rebellions can’t be won without loss and pain, and there was some of that, but there was also hope and resolution and I think the balance was just right.

This has been an incredible series and is one I still recommend to friends all the time. I loved the writing and the rich worldbuilding and I can’t wait to see what Melinda Salisbury writes next.

Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: Following Ophelia (Sophia Bennett)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 400

Release Date: March 9th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

When Mary Adams sees Millais’ depiction of the tragic Ophelia, a whole new world opens up for her. Determined to find out more about the beautiful girl in the painting, she hears the story of Lizzie Siddal – a girl from a modest background, not unlike her own, who has found fame and fortune against the odds. Mary sets out to become a Pre-Raphaelite muse, too, and reinvents herself as Persephone Lavelle. But as she fights her way to become the new face of London’s glittering art scene, ‘Persephone’ ends up mingling with some of the city’s more nefarious types and is forced to make some impossible choices.

Will Persephone be forced to betray those she loves, and even the person she once was, if she is to achieve her dreams?

Review:

I did an essay on the Ophelia painting by Millais in university as part of a trans-media storytelling class. It was something I didn’t particularly have an interest in and knew nothing about but I actually really enjoyed doing it. So when I heard about this book, set in the midst of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, I was intrigued.

Mary Adams is a country girl who’s just moved to London to be a maid. She’s not much good at cleaning grates or working hard but she does catch the eye of a number of painters with her beautiful red hair. She makes some well-connected friends and, through their trickery, is able to escape her servant life every few days and become Persephone Lavelle, a Pre-Raphaelite muse. But she can’t keep her two lives from meeting and everything soon starts to unravel.

Mary was a very lovable character. I enjoyed her outlook on everything, especially when she first came to London and just seemed to smile at everything. She was honest about herself and knew she wanted more from life than being a servant. When she became Persephone I enjoyed all the parties and new people with her: I wanted her to have a good time, to experience something she hadn’t before and enjoy being thought of as a mysterious lady.

Although I don’t know much about art, I did catch a few painters names that I recognised and it was fun to think about all the creativity and art that was going on around the edges of Mary’s story. I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance story line: there was nothing wrong with it, I just wasn’t that interested in it. It was there and that was fine but I was more interested in the paintings and the parties and how Mary coped with her double life.

Throughout the book, I felt really anxious for when Mary’s secret was discovered. It had to happen, of course, the whole ‘liar-revealed’ plot point and I was rooting for her so much I was genuinely scared of the trouble she’d be in when she was found out. It actually turned out to be even worse than I expected and I felt sorry for her, as I did so want things to work out well.

The ending left me feeling a bit odd. Although there was a hopeful note at the end, it just wasn’t the one I was expecting. It makes sense in fitting with the times: Mary’s reputation couldn’t recover after everything and she’d have trouble finding another job as a servant even if she wanted to, but the way things were left made me feel strangely hollow. It’s hard to talk about without spoiling it so I’ll leave it at that.

4

Book Review: Frogkisser! (Garth Nix)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Scholastic

Pages: 384

Release Date: February 28th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

Review:

I loved Garth Nix books when I was a teen so when I saw this on NetGalley I had to request it. I think it’s the first of his I’ve read as an adult, possibly the first I’ve read that isn’t part of a series too.

Princess Anya wants to be a sorcerer, not to go on a quest to defeat her evil stepstepfather and restore law to the land. But when circumstances force her to do just that, she learns a lot more about herself and her land than she ever imagined. Her Quest keeps growing out of her control. At first she only wants to transform the Frog Prince Denholm and find a way to defeat the evil Duke. Along the way she picks up more creatures to transform back and a task to bring justice back to the land.

This was a fun fairytale read with some amazing characters. I liked seeing how Anya grew over the book, from someone who just wanted to stay in her library and read books, to someone who is interested in the larger issues of the land: justice and laws and her obligations as a Princess to her people. She starts off pretty self-centred but learns a lot over her journey.

On her Quest Anya meets a whole host of colourful characters: the Royal Dogs, a thief boy turned into a newt, an otter turned into human-otter and a Good Wizard. The Good Wizard was one of my favourite characters and the best take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves I’ve read. I loved that normal gender roles weren’t really adhered to like you might expect to find in a fairytale. Wizards can be women, knights can be women, thieves can be women. Okay, so I’m just pleased there were lots of female characters, but it makes such a change from those roles being confined to men. The book plays with some traditional fairytale tropes

The book plays with some traditional fairytale tropes. While we have one princess who is your typical fairytale princess – Anya’s sister Morven is happy waiting for a prince to come to her – Anya herself is more interested in studying and doesn’t have time for princes. I loved that there was no romance storyline for her.

This is really different from anything I’ve read from Garth Nix before but still a fun, fantastical read that I really enjoyed.

4

Book Review: The Yellow Room (Jess Valance)

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 263

Release Date: July 28th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Anna receives a letter from her father’s girlfriend telling her he has died and asking to meet. Anna is drawn to Edie: her warmth, her character, her ability to rustle up delicious meals, all of which her own mother is seemingly incapable of… and the way she can tell Edie the secret that is buried inside her.

A tautly told, compelling tale about mothers and daughters and the lengths that some will go to, to make their dreams come true.

Review:

I didn’t know much about this book going into it, but I really enjoyed Vallance’s twisted friendship tale Birdy last year, so I had high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed.

Anna gets a letter from her estranged Dad’s girlfriend telling her he’s dead and asking her to meet. Anna has her reservations but agrees to meet Edie and the two strike up an odd friendship, despite the misgivings of her friends. Edie is the opposite of Anna’s own mother: warm, funny, and actually wants to spend time with her. But as Anna spills some of her darkest secrets to Edie, she soon finds Edie has her own hidden too.

This books has pretty short chapters, often with a cliffhanger or revelation at the end of each, which made it really hard to put down. Each time I told myself ‘just one more chapter’ until I’d read half the book in one sitting and accidentally taken a long lunch break at work. But it was so worth it.

It was easy to see why Anna was drawn to Edie: she was fun, caring and yes, a bit weird. She felt like one of Anna’s friends rather than a grown woman a lot of the time, and there was a childlike innocence that also made you feel protective towards her.

The best part of this book was also kind of the worst – Leon. He’s the biggest fictional creep I’ve read, and written so well I could envision him perfectly. I think I’ve met a few ‘Leon’s at university, though none of them were quite as bad as him. He’s smarmy, up himself and wholly believes he is the best thing to happen to you since birth. I cringed whenever he was on the page and wanted to slap the stupid grin off his face.

Anna’s secret was not what I was expecting and I loved the hints dropped towards it before you find out what actually happened. While the sensible part of me kept saying it would have been best for everyone if Anna confessed up straight away, I know things aren’t as easy as that, and I probably would have done the same in her position, even though it made things worse in the long run. I’ll say no more in case of spoilers!

I did start to wonder over half way through why it was called The Yellow Room, but it came into it eventually. The events towards the end took me by surprise and I wan’t quite sure who to believe. There’s a character who comes in at the end, which I can’t explain because spoilers, but I was glad they didn’t come save the day and make everything okay: I liked the way the relationship played out. It was good to see some steps towards resolution between Anna and her mum as well, even if things weren’t perfect at the end.

This was a fast paced addictive book with constant twists and turns that keep you hungry for more. Jess Vallance writes amazing characters and beautifully twisted plots, and I’ll be picking up anything she writes in the future.

 Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: Write (Phil Daoust)

Publisher: Guardian Books

Release Date: September 24th 2012

Summary (from Goodreads):

Find your voice. Feel inspired. Love your characters.
Let the world’s greatest contemporary authors share the joy of writing and guide you as you work.
With insights and inspiration from a wide range of writers, including:

Martin Amis
Diana Athill
Margaret Atwood
Zoë Heller
MJ Hyland
PD James
Hanif Kureishi
Hilary Mantel
Andrew Miller
Terry Pratchett

and many more, Write! has everything you need to get your creative juices flowing.

Review:

I’ve been slowly reading this book over nearly a year. It’s compiled of writing advice from a ton of amazing authors, and I’ve been picking it up before a writing session and reading a different bit of advice each time, just to encourage myself and get the creative juices flowing.

I especially enjoyed the first section, where authors give their tips for writing, my favourite being Neil Gaiman’s very direct advice – it’s one I might print out and stick to my desk so I can reread it whenever I’m feeling stuck or uninspired.

The second half of the book had authors talking about writing their books and getting them published. I loved Sue Townsend’s essay about writing Adrian Mole: when she was asked to send a synopsis, she didn’t know what to write and sent a school report for Adrian Mole instead, and got her book deal off the strength of that. I didn’t find this section quite as interesting, mostly because I didn’t know a lot of the authors or their books: they’re probably quite famous ones, but I mostly read YA and so wasn’t really familiar with them. It was still great to read about their inspiration and publication journeys though.

This is a great book to read for aspiring writers, especially when you’re feeling uninspired or need that extra bit of motivation.

4