Tag Archives: Guest post

BLOG TOUR: Elsetime by Eve McDonnell – review and guest post

I’m very excited to be participating in the blog tour today for Elsetime by debut Irish author Eve McDonnell, published by Everything With Words, a wonderful historical time-slip novel with a delightful cast of characters. Today I’m sharing my review and a guest post from the author.

It’s January 6th 1928, the day before the Great Flood. There’s a snowstorm and the river is about to burst its banks – fourteen lives will be lost. Can Glory, an orphan with only one hand, her time-travelling friend Needle and their pet crow change the future? Is there anyone among all those people entombed in that snow-shrouded town who will listen? Warning: Time travel isn’t something you should try unless you are prepared to face the consequences.

I’m a huge fan of time travel historical adventures and Elsetime lives up to expectations! It’s exciting, engaging, thrilling and has a fantastic twist at the end which I loved. Add to this characters you care about; the feisty and determined Glory and kind and courageous Needle, not forgetting Magpie the pet crow (!), it’s a recipe for success. Historical detail creates a believable world which I was happy to dive into as the plot thickened. Inspired by true events, Elsetime is a fantastic story of adventure and bravery with goodness at its heart – a great read.

I’m really pleased to welcome author Eve McDonnell to the blog today to share the inspiration behind the story!

ElsetimeThe Great Flood of London 1928

“One of my favourite past-times is treasure hunting – searching the pebbles and mud alongside a river or the sea for something sparkling: an old button once part of a queen’s gown, perhaps, or a key to a mythical treasure chest, or a war medal from a hero who saved countless lives. It’s no wonder a hobby so rich in possible stories was the inspiration for Elsetime with its tale of a young mudlark called Needle, searching the foreshore for treasures he could sell. Glory, an impetuous jeweller’s apprentice sprung to mind too, and I imagined her taking those muddy finds and transforming them into treasures to behold under the eyes of her strict mistress, Mrs Quick. They had to be from the 1920s, my imagination assured, but I wasn’t, at that stage, quite sure what was going to happen to my new-found friends.

Then, I found a newspaper clipping. It told of a real-life tragic event: The Great Flood of London in 1928. At its epicentre was Needle’s haunt – the stretch of foreshore alongside the Tate Gallery (now known as the Tate Britain). I needed to know more, and my research began.

Nearly ninety-three years ago, at the source of the Thames, families enjoyed a snowy Christmas akin to picture-perfect postcards. But, quick as a wink, the snow thawed, sending torrents of water along streams and brooks that fed the Thames. A deluge of rain in the days that followed raised the level of the great river higher and higher as it twisted and turned its way towards the bustling centre of London and out towards the sea.

Photo Credit: Daily Mirror 1928

As Londoners partied away the Twelfth Day of Christmas, or snuggled their loved ones into bed in old basement flats, the raging river met its match: a powerful storm in the North Sea. At the turn of the tide, waves swelled so high at the mouth of the Thames, beyond anything they had ever seen. Seawater tunnelled its way up the river, clashing with the deluge of snowmelt and rainwater. X marked the spot where the river narrowed and its depth deepened following foolish dredging to allow passage to larger ships. Not long after midnight, the embankment walls near the Tate Gallery gave way.

Freezing cold water raced down stone steps and into the homes of poor basement dwellers, trapping them before they even knew their fate. Muddy water inundated the basement galleries of the Tate Gallery, destroying many fine pieces of art, including several priceless Turner paintings and drawings. Big Ben was surrounded, the Underground submerged. The moat at the Tower of London filled for the first time in nearly a century. Fourteen souls lost their lives that night and, as my research deepened, so too did my shock and sadness when I read the names listed on that Daily Mirror 1928 newspaper clipping. One name stood out: Mrs Quick – a name I had already chosen for the owner of The Frippery & Fandangle Jewellery Emporium where Glory worked. As I stared down at her name, it felt like a message from the past. Though Elsetime and its characters are merely figments of my imagination, I knew one thing for sure: the Great Flood would star in this story of mudlarks, mysterious crows and jeweller’s apprentices – it was a story I had to tell.”

Find out more at www.everythingwithwords.com.

With thanks to Everything With Words 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:

Guest Post: Jamie Littler author and illustrator of Frostheart

We have a guest on the blog today! None other than the author of the brilliant fantasy adventure Frostheart, Jamie Littler, who was recently shortlisted for the Branford Boase Book Award along with his editor, Naomi Colthurst. Frostheart is his first published book as an author/illustrator. Described by The Bookseller as a “A rip-roaring action adventure, full of humour, heart and unforgettable characters”, it holds a well-deserved spot on the shortlist!

Jamie shares his top tips for writing today, with some brilliant insights into what’s important for anyone wanting to get into writing. Welcome to the blog Jamie!

“I was thrilled to be asked to write a guest post for the Book Activist and to share some of the tips that helped me to write my fantasy-adventure book, Frostheart.

It’s definitely the question I get asked the most: ‘Do you have any advice for someone who wants to get into writing?’ Now, I could go on about making sure you read lots, (which is important!), or learning how to use proper grammar (which is always nice, I suppose), but those aren’t the things that really helped me to write my book. No, the biggest, most spectacularly important secret to writing a story is this: have fun. That’s it – that’s the secret! Thank you for reading, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Oh, you want an explanation?

Okay, here goes.

I’ve been an illustrator for ten years, but my dream was always to write my own stories as well as to draw them. And I tried and tried, but my stories were always turned down by the publishers. I could’ve made wallpaper out of all the rejection letters I received (and did – but believe me, it’s a very ugly room to be in). At first, the rejections were hard to hear. “You know that story you wrote, the one you worked really, really hard on? Yeah, well, it’s rubbish.” I mean, they were never quite so rude, but that was the general gist of it. And sadly, they were right. I still had a lot to learn, and there were many ways my writing needed to improve. But practice makes perfect.

So, I kept on trying. I wrote another story, and another. And another after that. Some will never leave my work-in-progress drawer (aka the bin), others I was super proud of, but they were never to be. Gradually, the rejections began to change in tone. They now said that the writing was fine, the idea was good, but something was still not clicking. I was banging my head against a wall, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be an author after all?

One day, I was talking to another author about my ideas. I asked which one they thought would give me the biggest chance of getting a publishing deal. They said it didn’t matter what they thought, I had to write the story that meant something to me. Deep down, they said, I knew which one I wanted to write. And it was then that it hit me. I’d been so desperate to get my story turned into a book, I’d been writing what I thought I should’ve been writing, instead of what I truly wanted to write. I’d been looking at what books were popular at the time; the kinds of books I should try to make. But those books meant something to the authors who wrote them, they didn’t mean anything to me.

I vowed to write a story that I would’ve wanted to read, the type of book that kept me turning the pages, something that filled me with excitement, that felt so enjoyable that it couldn’t possibly be considered actual work. I vowed to have fun, even if what I was writing wasn’t the most popular type of book at the time. And if a few other readers enjoyed it to, then all the better.

The next story I wrote became Frostheart, my first published book as an author/illustrator. Writing a story is personal. Try not to focus on what others say a good story should be. If you make something that you enjoy writing, it will shine through on the pages, and the readers will be whisked away by your passion and enthusiasm. They will fall in love with your characters, they will gasp at what happens to them, and they will stay up late to reach the last page. Grammar, spelling, all of that comes later. What’s important is that you’re writing the story you want to tell.

Oh, and try not to make wallpaper out of your rejection letters, it really isn’t a great look.”

With thanks to Jamie for his brilliant advice! Frostheart is published by Puffin Books. Find out more about the Branford Boase Book Award Shortlist here and visit the website here.

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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Book of the Month: Generation Hope: Youth Can Make a Difference by Kimberlie Hamilton

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Hope is a wonderful word and much needed at this time.  This month’s Book of the Month is a fantastic new book by Kimberlie Hamilton, published by Scholastic, Generation Hope: Youth Can Make A Difference. It’s a brilliant book offering inspiration and advice for young people who want to do some good in the world, and encouraging them to believe that they can make a difference. And I’m delighted to say author Kimberlie Hamilton joins the blog today to share a wonderful post – Why Kindess Counts.

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Meet the young people around the world who are acting now to make a difference. From tackling climate change and animal welfare, to fighting for equality and advocating kindness, the young activists profiled in this book show how we can all make a positive change.

With a vibrant and funky layout, this eye-catching book is bound to capture the imagination of young people everywhere! Full of incredible facts about children and young people who really have made a different throughout history, each section explores an aspect of activism and shows how you can get involved. From Animal Advocates to Water Warrior, from Creative for A Cause to It’s Not Easy Being Green, this book has it covered. I love that there are examples of young people all over the world who are making a difference in the most wonderful ways. Perhaps the most well-known to young people today is Greta Thunberg who has inspired a generation of young activists:

“To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible”  Greta Thunberg

If you are looking for a book to inspire the young people in your life that they do have the power to make change for the better, then this is it.  And to celebrate it being Book of the Month, author Kimberlie Hamilton shares her thoughts about how to be kind – something we can appreciate at this time. Welcome to the blog Kimberlie!

Why Kindness Counts – 8 Ways Kindness Can Make a Difference

“Kindness is one of the most powerful tools we have as human beings. Young and old alike, our words and actions have the potential to impact other people’s lives in countless ways. During challenging times like these, we each need to do our part to spread hope and compassion, kindness and caring. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1 – Kindness holds people together. There really is magic to be found in making connections with others and finding common ground. How we treat each other determines the kind of community we live in, the kind of country we live in and ultimately the kind of world we live in.

2 – Being kind feels good. When we do something for someone without expecting anything in return, it gives us a natural high. And that feeling is pretty addictive!

3 – Aim to understand, not judge. Kindness is all about empathy, acceptance and tolerance. Being kind helps break down the emotional barriers that all too often build up between ourselves and those around us.

4 – Kindness is ageless. No matter our age, we all have the power to make our community and our world a better place for everyone. In the words of teenage Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg, “No one is too small to make a difference.”

5 – Everyone is fighting their own battle. None of us can ever know what anyone else is going through in life. One small act of kindness might make a huge difference to them. This is why “compassion activism” can be just as powerful and important as other forms of activism, like school strikes for the climate.

6 – We have more influence than we realise. The people around us can take inspiration from how we treat others. Set a good example by being an ambassador for kindness.

7 – Love trumps hate. Each of us has the same power to spread hope and kindness as those who wish to spread fear and hate. The world needs kind-hearted people to put positive energy into the world, now more than ever.

8 – Kindness is contagious, too! In unsettling times like these, it’s comforting to know that lots of people working together can achieve amazing things. As Harold Kushner once said, “When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.”

In a world where you can be anything, be kind!

Find out more www.kimberliehamilton.co.uk. With thanks to Scholastic for sending me this book to review.

 

 

 

 

Guest blog & GIVEAWAY – Be Your Best Self by Danielle Brown and Nathan Kai

As we near the end of National Non-Fiction November, it’s a huge pleasure to welcome Danielle Brown MBE to the blog today with a guest post about the fantastic non-fiction book she co-authored with Nathan Kai, Be Your Best Self – Life Skills for Unstoppable Kids (read my recent review here). Danielle is a double Paralympic gold medalist and Nathan is the youngest self-development published author, and a member of MENSA. The story behind the book is inspiring – read on to find out more!

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Be Your Best Self

“Have you written a book for children about how they can be the best they can be?” 

Danielle was asked this question by seven-year-old Nathan Kai at an event she was speaking at. Nathan explained that he’d been looking for a book to help him become the very best he could be, but after months of searching he couldn’t find anything out there.

“No,” Danielle said. “But that’s a really good idea.”

And it was. There are thousands of self-improvement books for adults, each one offering a different perspective on how to maximise our capabilities and live more fulfilling lives. However, there wasn’t anything out there to help children build solid foundations for success, happiness and esteem. Nathan then suggested that we wrote the book together.

This had the potential to have a HUGE positive impact and two years later we are very excited that Be Your Best Self has hit the shelves. Writing this book has been an incredibly fun journey, bringing together our unique perspectives and skillsets to create innovative and exciting guidance that children can really relate to, and empowering them to become their best selves. It’s a very unusual combination but we make a fantastic team. We see the world in different ways and our joined experiences and knowledge base has allowed us to create something that is designed for young people.

We believe that every young person is capable of achieving extraordinary things with the right mindset and support structures in place, and Be Your Best Self helps them to do this.  Be Your Best Self is a comprehensive framework that encourages children to raise their aspirations and turn exciting dreams into a reality. It’s a thought provoking career tool, a vital people skills asset, a modern day confidence builder, an engaging life-hack, and it empowers children to make the most of – and create – opportunities to lead bright and successful futures.

Above all it lets children know that they are special and unique, valuable and important, and that they can achieve their dreams. We can all be BRILLIANT if we work hard and develop our strengths and weaknesses.

And this is something that applies to ALL children.

Nobody is born successful, but it is something we can all learn to achieve with the right support, guidance and skillset. We want to help children from all backgrounds and abilities build strong foundations for successful futures and recognise that they have the capacity to achieve great things. Getting this book published is only the start of our very exciting journey. We are looking forward to bringing the contents to life through inspiring workshops and presentations designed to make a lasting impact with children. We believe that the future is built by education and children deserve to be equipped with the right tools and strategies to help them maximise their potential.

Want to know a little more about the authors?

Nathan Kai is nine years old and very determined to achieve his goals – one of which has been to become a published author. Nathan is a member of MENSA and his intelligence shows. He is a prize winning linguist, grade 4 pianist, bronze UK and European medallist in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s educated otherwise. He swims like a fish and thoroughly enjoys the challenges of writing. He’s thrilled that his hard work is paying off and he is looking forward to helping other children feel happier, more secure and confident and in achieving their goals too.

Danielle Brown MBE started archery on her fifteenth birthday and three years later she was on the Great Britain team, jumping in as World Number 1 and hanging onto that position for the rest of her career. Danielle won gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and retained her title in London 2012, as well as winning 5 World Championship Titles. She became the first disabled person to represent England at the Commonwealth Games (and win gold) as an able-bodied athlete. Danielle works as a keynote speaker, trainer and coach.

Find out more at www.beyourbestself.global and head over to Twitter for a fantastic opportunity to win one of FIVE copies of Be Your Best Self!

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