Tag Archives: Blog tour

BLOG TOUR: Literally: Amazing words and Where They Come From by Patrick Skipworth, illustrated by Nicholas Stevenson

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I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the language safari blog tour for LITERALLY: Amazing words and Where They Come From by Patrick Skipworth, illustrated by Nicholas Stevenson, published by What On Earth Books.  LITERALLY is an amazing collection of some of our most commonly used words and shares the history behind them.  Prepare to be astounded as you discover more about one of our most precious commodities, learning not just about the origins of words but also about how their meanings have changed and how far they have travelled.  Accompanied by vibrant and humourous illustrations, this is a wonderful book to share and enjoy again and again.

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Today I’m sharing a guest post from author Patrick Skipworth, who studied Classics and Linguistics in London and the Netherlands, connecting the dots between ancient cultures, their histories, and their languages.  Welcome to the blog Patrick!

Language Safari part 3: Language on a plate: food words from around the world

In the guest posts on the LITERALLY Blog tour I’ll be taking a closer look at three familiar areas of English vocabulary to reveal some of the surprises hidden in our words.

One of my favourite hobbies is cooking. Ever since I was very little I’ve enjoyed trying new foods, and now as an adult I love experimenting in the kitchen. Things sometimes don’t turn out as planned, but that’s half the fun. Food also provides an opportunity to combine one passion with another – words! Words for the vegetables, herbs, spices and animal products we use to make our dinners are a treasure trove for etymologists, with connections spanning thousands of years and crossing the world. The easy access we have today to globally imported foods in every supermarket or high street means we get to discover new words all the time.

Even familiar food words can have distant origins: pepper and sugar, for example, have their roots in Sanskrit from ancient India, and tea comes from Chinese (ch’a). Or take the humble potato. This ubiquitous feature of Sunday lunch in the UK was originally introduced to European stomachs after it was brought back from South America by Spanish conquistadors. The Inca who ruled the area around what is now Peru were huge fans. But, as with many words, unpacking the potato reveals a more complex journey into English. Long before its recent resurgence in trendy recipes, the sweet potato was the original ‘potato’ for English speakers. It took its name from batata, probably its name in Taíno but certainly a language from the Caribbean. The arrival of the less-sweet potato from South America saw it eventually take over as arguably the most loved root vegetable. Elsewhere the story is just as complicated: compare French pomme de terre (‘potato’, literally ‘apple of the earth’ – also see Dutch aardappel) with the more familiar looking patate douce (sweet potato), or, even more telling, Spanish patata (‘potato’) and batata (‘sweet potato’).

Through the various forms and changes around this single word we can identify a period of history that saw invaders and colonists taking two plants from the Americas back to Europe and causing linguistic mayhem. These words reveal historical connections around trade and colonialism that have shaped a significant part of societies today. Often these connections are actually right in front of us, such as for the word peach which comes ultimately from ‘Persia’, through which this fruit once made the long journey from China to Europe. A less common sight, the Roman snail (or escargot) was introduced across Europe by the Romans who had a taste for the slimy molluscs which has been passed down to French cuisine today. Red herrings abound though (French fries originate in Belgium for example), so any etymologist always has to stay on their toes. Next time you have your dinner, take a closer look at the words on your plate – you might discover some amazing stories.

Follow Patrick on Twitter @PSkipworth and Nicholas @xonicholasxo.

With thanks to What On Earth Books for inviting me to participate in this blog tour! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour:

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#FCBGCBA2020 BLOG TOUR: Wildspark by Vashti Hardy

It’s my absolute pleasure to be supporting The Children’s Book Award blog tour championing the brilliant Wildspark by Vashti Hardy. To celebrate, I’m delighted to be running a giveaway – one lucky winner will receive a copy of Wildspark! Head over to Twitter to find out how to enter.

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Prue is a young farm girl whose older brother, Francis, had a natural talent for engineering. But after his untimely death, the family have been shattered by grief. Everything changes when a stranger arrives at the farm. A new, incredible technology has been discovered in the city of Medlock, where a secretive guild of inventors have found a way to bring spirits of the dead back into the world, capturing their energy and powering animal-like machines (the Personifates). Unaware that Francis has died, the Ghost Guild wants him to join them as an apprentice. Prue poses as “Frances” and goes to Medlock to learn the craft – but she’s on a mission of her own, to bring her brother back home. And to find Francis, she needs to find a way to help the ghost machines remember the people they used to be. But if she succeeds, the whole society could fall apart.

I was fortunate enough to read and review Wildspark last year for Scholastic (full review here) and therefore I know how deserving Vashti Hardy is of this shortlisting in the Confident Reader’s Category! Featuring a truly imaginative world full of breath-taking scenery, wondrous inventions and the most marvellous array of characters you could hope to meet, Wildspark was one of my absolute favourite reads last year.

The Children’s Book Award is the only national award voted for solely by children from start to finish. It is highly regarded by parents, teachers, librarians, publishers and children’s authors and illustrators as it truly represents the children’s choice. Author of Wildspark, Vashti Hardy, says:

“I’m overjoyed and honoured that Wildspark has been shortlisted for the FCBG Children’s Book Awards 2020! The FCBG is such a force for good in sharing and celebrating a love of books and I can’t wait to attend the ceremony, which I was lucky enough to be a guest at last year. It’s a lovely day and a great opportunity to meet some of the fantastic young readers who have taken part in reading the shortlisted books, the teachers, and of course the wonderful FCBG volunteers. Wildspark is a fantasy adventure story that celebrates the power of invention, dreaming big, friendship, and grief, and it also explores how we treat the notion of ‘other’ and difference through imagining you could bring back ghosts inside lifelike animal machines, a subject that resonates so strongly with our times. I’m looking forward to seeing what all the readers think and chatting some more to them all!”

Thanks to the support for the Award by the publishers, over 1,000 new books are donated to be read and reviewed by Testing Groups across the country every year, with over 150,000 total votes being cast in the process. At the end of each testing year, nearly 12,000 books are donated to hospitals, women’s refuges, nurseries and disadvantaged schools by our groups. It truly is a wonderful award.

Find out how to vote here. Find out more about the Award here. Follow the Award on Twitter using #FCBGCBA2020

Find out more about Wildspark on the author’s website www.vashtihardy.com and check out the whole blog tour here:

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BLOG TOUR: Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver

Viper's Daughter Blog Tour BannerIt is hugely exciting to be hosting today’s stop on the Viper Daughter’s blog tour, the brand new story in the Wolf Brother series by award-winning author Michelle Paver published by Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus. Today I’m sharing an exclusive extract from the book to give you a glimpse into the story!

Viper’s Daughter is the seventh book in the series which began with the award-winning and million-copy selling title, Wolf Brother. The story continues the adventures of a fantastic cast of characters against the backdrop of the Stone-Age complete with ancient clans, mystic magic and woolly mammoths! Constantly in demand in the school libraries I worked in, I can imagine a whole legion of fans will be delighted to see Torak, Renn and Wolf in print again. Not only this, but readers will also be excited to hear that Wolf Brother is to be made into a T.V series too – see here for more details.

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For two summers, Torak and Renn have been living in the Forest with their faithful pack-brother, Wolf. But their happiness is shattered when Renn realises Torak is in danger – and she’s the threat….

Returning to the ancient Stone-Age world that is Torak, Renn and Wolf’s home, you can almost hear the calls of the wild, feel the ice-cold wintry landscapes and taste the danger! Introducing faces old and new, adventure quickly takes over as Renn disappears and Torak finds himself in a race against all manner of evils to find her. Torak and Wolf’s powerful bond has never been more needed and they are tested to the limit. Renn must master her Magecraft and battle her own demons – as well as a few real ones, in order to survive.  The world conjured creates a powerful image of clan life and what living in those ancient times might have been like – from what they wore, to what they ate and their belief in folklore and magic.  References to previous events and characters and the use of descriptive terminology add to the authenticity – and give you a very good excuse to read the whole series again! Weaving an enthralling narrative, full of thrills and heart-stopping action, Viper’s Daughter transports you to a place where the bonds of friendship are key to survival and life can change on the tip of an arrow!

Read the extract below for an insight into this gripping adventure:

Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver – An Extract

Strangers meeting Dark saw an odd-looking boy with long white hair  and  eyes  like  a  sky  full  of  snow.  They mistook his gentleness for weakness, but soon realised their error. He’d been born without colour and abandoned by his father when he was eight. For seven winters he’d survived on his own in the Mountains, his only companions a white raven he’d rescued from crows, and his sister’s ghost. Two summers ago the Raven Clan had taken him in and made him their Mage.  He was  still  getting  used  to  living  with people in the Forest, and sometimes he went off for a few days alone to clear his head.

Torak flung  away  the  stick  and  glared  at  the  fire.  ‘Tell me why she left.’

With his knife Dark speared a salmon eye and offered it. Torak scowled, so Dark ate it himself. ‘She said things kept happening that she couldn’t explain.’

‘What things?’

‘A spring-trap she forgot to warn you about. And that time she nearly shot you when you were hunting.’

‘Those were accidents.’

‘She didn’t think so. She said, “There’s something inside me that wants to hurt Torak.”’

‘What? Renn would never hurt me!’

‘I know. But she’s terrified that she might. She said she has to find out what it is and make it stop. She thinks – ’ his voice dropped – ‘it might have something to do with her mother.’

The birch trees  whispered  in  alarm.  The white raven  crested her head-feathers and croaked. Torak met Dark’s eyes. ‘But the Viper Mage is dead.’

‘I know, but that’s what Renn told me.’

Torak rubbed his hand across his mouth. ‘And you’ve no idea where she’s gone?’

‘She said the signs all point one way but she wouldn’t say where. I’ve been seeing signs too. And just now my drum told me something weird: The demon that is not demon—’

‘I don’t have time for Mage’s riddles.’

‘And I keep seeing tusks.’ He pointed at a tree where he’d left a small slate weasel as an offering. Shadows of twigs had given it horns. ‘I see them in clouds, in eddies in the river: huge twisted tusks, much bigger than a boar’s—’

‘I don’t care about tusks, I need to find Renn!’

‘But, Torak, they’re linked! The tusks have something to do with her, I can feel it.’

‘Do a finding charm, do it now.’

‘She doesn’t  want  you  to  find  her.  That’s why she left without telling you, because you’d insist on going too and she couldn’t take that risk!’

‘Just do the charm!’

Dark opened his mouth – then shut it. ‘I don’t need to. Look at the sky.’

Above their heads the First Tree glowed luminous green. Its shimmering branches held  the  moon  and  the  stars,  and its unseen roots trapped demons in the Otherworld. Torak felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. The First Tree shone brightest on dark winter nights and rarely showed itself in summer. It had appeared for a reason. He saw from Dark’s rapt expression that he thought so too.As  they  watched,  the  green  lights  faded  till  all  that  remained  was  a  single  shining  bough  arching  like  a  vast  arrow across the deep blue sky.

‘North,’ said Torak. ‘It’s telling us she’s gone north.’

‘A long way north.’

Torak glanced at him. ‘You don’t mean the Far North?  She’d never try that on her own.’

‘Even further. I can feel it.’

‘But what could be further than the Far North?’

Ark cawed a greeting, and they saw Fin-Kedinn at the edge of the glade. Leaning on  his  staff,  the  Leader  of  the  Raven  Clan  limped  towards  them.  Silver glinted  in  his  dark-red  hair  and his short straight beard. Firelight carved his features in shadow and flame.

‘Beyond the Far North,’ he said, ‘is the Edge of the World.’

Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver is out now, published by Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus, priced £12.99 in hardback. 

Find out more at  www.wolfbrother.com. With thanks to Zephyr for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour! Check out the rest of the tour here:

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BLOG TOUR: The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley by Amber Lee Dodd

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Welcome to DAY THREE of the blog tour celebrating publication of The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley written by Amber Lee Dodd, published by Scholastic!  I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop and sharing a spooky post from the author herself, featuring the story of an infamous historical curse.

Why, I hear you ask? Well a curse is at the heart of The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley, a fantastic family adventure story with a magical twist.

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The Bradley family are constantly escaping from a centuries old curse which means that every home they have ever lived in is destroyed – floods, fire, earthquakes – all manner of destruction. They have just moved to their thirteenth house and although the threat of the curse looms ever closer, Noah is desperate not to have to leave this new home – where he finally feels like a ‘normal’ boy and that he could have a happy life. However, at the sign of a black cat, Noah knows the curse is once again about to strike– can he find a way to break it with the help of his brother and new neighbour, Neena?

I’ve been a fan of Amber Lee Dodd since her brilliant first book, We Are Giants, so I was very excited to read this, her latest title.  It doesn’t disappoint – I was hooked from the first page! Totally engaging, The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley is an original story with a clever plot, that has so much for readers to relate too. There are so many great characters and I adored Noah and his brother Billy and the bond they share. Noah’s care and concern for Billy, who is deaf, is heart-warming. The narrative captures just how important it is to have a place called home and how difficult it can be to constantly move house, change schools and have to make new friends.  Noah struggles with his own desires to fit in, even at the expense of true friendship, but as the story progress we see him realise that fitting in shouldn’t be that hard if people will accept you for who you are.  References throughout to Noah’s love of nature and the situations he finds himself in reflecting animal behaviour bring an added dimension to the story. Add to this the magical elements of a frightening family curse and you have a wonderful tale of family, friendship, bravery and adventure!  Definitely one for the bookshelf!

Today, author Amber Lee Dodd is sharing the story of her favourite historical curse. Welcome to the blog Amber!

King Tutankhamun’s Curse

“One of my favourite historical curses is the curse of the Pharaohs. It’s said that the well-known curse brings down illness, bad luck and death upon any who disturb the tombs. The curse was so well feared that inscriptions were carved into some Royal Egyptian tombs reading,

“Cursed be those that disturb the rest of Pharaoh. They that shall break the seal of this tomb shall meet death by a disease which no doctor can diagnose.”

Even stranger is the real-life story of the six archaeologists who died shortly after opening King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Followed by five more deaths in ten years of people who first visited the tomb, or where involved in disturbing the King. All the mysterious deaths were of course due to natural causes, misadventures and even murder! But that hasn’t stopped people wondering if the curse was real. Spooky!”

Amber Lee Dodd grew up in Portsmouth, where she rode the waltzers, swam in the winter sea and lost her wellies in the marshes. She has worked as a Learning Support Worker in schools with disabled students, and is passionate about incorporating disability representation in her books for children. Amber struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia and dyspraxia at school and on discovering stories, found her very own magic power – telling stories!

Find out more at www.amberleedodd.com. With thanks to Scholastic for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour:

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BLOG TOUR: Sofa Surfer by Malcolm Duffy

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the new book by Malcolm Duffy, Sofa Surfer. A story of one boy and his friendship with a girl called Spider; about family and belonging and what it means to be homeless.  I am totally delighted to be hosting such a brilliant book on my first blog tour of the year. Malcolm Duffy is the author of the award winning Me Mam, Me Dad, Me, which was inspired by his work as Creative Director with Comic Relief.

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When 15-year-old Tyler meets Spider at the pool, he is led into a dark and dangerous world he never knew existed….

Sofa Surfer by Malcolm Duffy is fantastic, the perfect balance of a heartfelt story and gritty plot. The story tells of 15-year-old Tyler, who is furious when his parents decide to move from the only home he has ever known in London, to a small Yorkshire village.  Upheaval beckons and no amount of encouragement from his parents will persuade Tyler to embrace the change – even the new family dog can’t remove his loneliness. Enter a strange and skinny girl called Spider, who Tyler meets at the local lido and through whom he learns what having a home really means.

Totally absorbing, Tyler’s voice echoes throughout the engaging narrative, drawing you in to his world of frustration and ever increasing desire to help Spider, no matter what the cost.  Sofa Surfer shines a light on the reality of homelessness, family ties and what empathy in action really looks like. You cannot fail to be moved by Spider’s situation and Tyler’s response, nor the prejudice shown by so many that readers will all recognise. I loved the added plot twist showing Spider getting the help she needs from someone who themselves had been given a second chance. Sofa Surfer is a simply a really great read – one I’d highly recommend for all young people aged 12+ (and older people too!).

 

With thanks to Zephyr for sending me a proof copy for review.9781786697660

Find out more at www.malcolmduffy.com and follow the author on Twitter @malcolmduffyUK. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour:

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BLOG TOUR: Grace-Ella: Witch Camp by Sharon Marie-Jones

Today is my stop on the blog tour for an absolutely delightful story, Grace Ella: Witch-Camp by Sharon Marie-Jones, illustrated by Adriana J Puglisi. Published by Firely Press, this is the second book in the Grace Ella series which I’m sure will have been eagerly awaited by young readers everywhere! I’m really pleased to be able to share with you some fantastic teaching resources written by the author for this new story – see link below to download!

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Grace Ella: Witch Camp by Sharon Marie-Jones

Grace-Ella is nervous and excited to go to Witch Camp, with her cat Mr Whiskins, of course. She is put in a cabin with Dilys, Mati and Aisha. Grace-Ella likes them all. But when Dilys’s broomstick flying goes very wrong, and Mati convinces them breaking the rules and going into the woods at night is the only way to help her, Grace-Ella finds herself on a real adventure. Will she be able to save her friends? 

Grace Ella is so excited about going Witch Camp and when she hears about the award for best coven given at the end of Camp, she and her new friends are determined to win. Unfortunately, things don’t quite go to plan and that’s when the adventures start! Grace Ella’s Witch Camp is not that different from ordinary holiday camps – apart from the magic of course! And that’s what is so great about this story; young readers will be able to identify with the challenges Grace Ella and her friends face, as they discover the consequences of breaking the rules and just what friendship is all about. Charming from the first page, this is exactly the kind of story I would have loved as a young girl, with lovely illustrations throughout. Enough excitement to keep you on your toes, plenty of friendship and fun and of course, magical moments galore!

I’m delighted to share on the blog today some exclusive teaching resources to support Grace Ella: Witch Camp. Download them here:

Witch Camp Teaching Resources

Find out more and follow Sharon Marie Jones on Twitter @sharonmariej. Discover Grace Ella’s first adventure, Spells for Beginners here.

With thanks to Firefly Press for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour for more magical fun:

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BLOG TOUR: Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner

I recall a time when Sally Gardner’s I, Coriander was permanently on loan from the school library, with a reservation list as long as your arm.  I would not be surprised if the same is to be true of her fantastic new novel for middle grade readers Invisible in a Bright Light published by Zephyr Books and I am delighted to be participating in the blog tour today!

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It is 1870: opening night at the Royal Opera House in a freezing city by the sea, where a huge, crystal chandelier in the shape of a galleon sparkles magically with the light of 750 candles. Celeste, a theatre rat, wakes up in a costume basket from what she hopes is a bad dream, to find that everyone at the theatre where she works thinks she is someone else. When the chandelier falls, she is haunted by a strange girl who claims to know Celeste’s past and why she must risk playing a game called the Reckoning to try to save the people she loves.

Celeste knows something is not quite right and can’t seem to remember exactly who she is and where she has come from. Distant voices and strange memories of a man in an emerald green suit haunt her as the truth is slowly reveavled. Her current reality of being a theatre rat just doesn’t ring true and even those she loves are not themselves. What is the mystery behind the glorious chandelier that adorns the ceiling of the opera house? And why won’t anyone accept that Celeste’s name is not Maria?

A stunning narrative reveals a compelling and dark fairy-tale of love, family and magic set against the backdrop of the opera. Full of startling discoveries, bold characters and family bonds that even time itself cannot break, this story will draw you in one page at a time. The theatrical world of opera is brought wonderfully to life and Celeste’s determination to win what seems the most impossible game is palapable. Beautifully described, I read this in one sitting finding myself totally absorbed and thoroughly enjoying each twist and turn right to the satisfying ending.  This novel really stands out in the crowd; Invisible in a Bright Light will captivate it’s audience from beginning to end.

The story behind the novel
As a young costume designer working at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen, Sally Gardener glimpsed a chandelier which hung majestically from the dome of the opera house into the auditorium. One wintry day, she visited the dome that looked out across the rooftops of Copenhagen and found an old lady living there, whose job it was to polish the chandelier until it gleamed. Sally felt as if she had stepped into a fairy tale and the experience left an indelible mark on her imagination. Inspired by this and by her love of ghost ships, theatre and fairy tale, Invisible in a Bright Light is a story she has
been waiting to write for a long time. It reunites Sally with her favourite middle grade audience and recreates the splendour and dark magic of her award-winning debut novel I, Coriander.

Find out more at www.sallygardner.co.uk and @TheSallyGardner

With thanks to Zephyr Books for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour:

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