Book of the Month: The Truth about Martians by Melissa Savage

book of the monthHere is the first Book of the Month for 2019! Set against the backdrop of the famous UFO Roswell site, The Truth about Martians, is a heart-warming tale of discovery exploring loss, friendship, family and – what else – aliens! I absolutely loved this quirky and original tale by Melissa Savage, author of the critically acclaimed Bigfoot Tobin & Me. 

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The Truth about Martians by Melissa Savage

Mylo knows there’s no such thing as Martians – at least until a flying saucer crash-lands near his home. And then he starts to hear a voice, asking for help. Desperate to be as brave as his older bother Obie – who passed away over a year ago – Mylo investigates the crash.  What he ends up discovering is more about friendship and the universe than he ever could have imagined.

Mylo’s life was turned upside down when his brother Obie died.  His Mum and Dad just aren’t the same and he is plagued by nightmares, with grief constantly threatening to overwhelm him.  Mylo’s best friend Dibs is thankfully a great distraction,  often staying over to escape his own difficult home life. Together, they are obsessed with comics and science-fiction, in particular Superman and discussing potential impending Martian invasion.  So when a real life UFO crash lands in the farm down the road, they know its up to them to investigate.  Mylo cannot ignore the voice calling for help, little realising that the decisions he now makes will change all their lives.

The Truth about Martians is not so much a story about discovering aliens; it’s a story about discovering your courage and the power of friendship.  Mylo is a great character with a truly believable voice.  His friendship with Dibs is so full of warmth it’s palpable, brought to life with humourous dialogue and pure heart.  Despite their various difficult family issues, they are typical boys complete with smelly feet jokes; bravado (Dibs); admiration for summer visitor Gracie Delgado (Mylo) and shared irritation with older boys, Diego and Spuds.  This convincing cast of characters and the fast-paced plot create a thoroughly engaging story.  Mylo doesn’t just find out the truth about Martians; he finds the truth about himself as he comes to terms with the loss of his older brother. He also realises that his best friend Dibs really needs his help and that people are not always what they seem.  Mylo discovers he has the power to help heal not just himself but those he loves – and help a Martian in distress. Courage isn’t always obvious and being brave doesn’t always look like Superman; The Truth about Martians highlights this sentiment brilliantly and leaves you feeling totally uplifted.

I will be hosting a stop on the blog tour for The Truth about Martians this week. See below for details about the tour starting tomorrow!

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Follow Melissa Savage on Twitter @melissadsavage 

The Truth about Martians by Melissa Savage is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House) recommended for children aged 9+.

With thanks to Chicken House for sending me this book to review.

 

 

23 December: Jo Franklin

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Help! It’s  Jo Franklin!

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Jo Franklin went to a boarding school, which was nothing like Hogwarts. She did however, have plenty of time for reading and making up stories in her head. After ten years of making camps in the woods with her own children, Jo wrote Help! I’m an Alien and like all true aliens, she is aiming for world domination with two more titles to come in the Help! series

Name three things on your Christmas list this year! Chocolate Cherry Liqueurs – I ate five boxes last year, because I kept buying them ‘for Christmas’ and eating them before December. So this year I’m going to put them on my list and not buy any cgj3bc8w0aalu6cmyself. Hopefully that will limit me to one box only. A signed print by Chris Riddell – no one in my family would ever have thought of buying me this, so I have cheated and bought it myself. It’s currently at the framers. ‘Set the Boy Free’ Johnny Marr’s autobiography. Johnny was the guitarist with The Smiths – my favourite band of all time so I can’t wait to read this.

Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions? We don’t do Christmas in a big way, but we always have pancakes for breakfast and a roast dinner. I’m vegetarian so I will have cauliflower cheese instead of the meat. I love Brussel sprouts, parsnips and roast potatoes, so I really enjoy Christmas lunch.

There are wonderful stories shared at Christmas time. What is your favourite story to read at Christmas? I make a point of reading two books every year between Christmas and New Year. They aren’t exactly stories but gear me up for the new year – On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott. They both give their view of being a writer. I find them totally inspirational.

If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be and why? Morrissey – he is the reason I became vegetarian 30 years ago so we could share a vegetarian feast and talk about books and music.

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In ‘Help! I’m an Alien!’, Daniel has some very unique best friends, Gordon the Geek and Freddo. What gift would he give them at Christmas?  Freddo is easy. He would like a life time’s subscription to Walker’s Crisps. Daniel would probably buy Gordon a new tie, but instead of using Christmas wrapping paper he would have it sealed in a sterile atmosphere to ensure that there was no chance it was contaminated.

(*Laughs out loud*)

You do loads of brilliant author events! If you could plan the perfect author event to celebrate Christmas AND reading, what would it be like and who would be there? I love to spend time with other writers and enthusiastic readers. My idea of heaven would be to spend a day in a massive log cabin, cut off from civilisation by heavy snow. The cabin has a roaring fire with an endless supply of logs. Each person reads out a chapter from their favourite book and gives a copy of that book to everyone else at the event, so at the end of it we all leave with a massive pile of books to read. Sharing a passion for reading and writing is a great way to make friends.

(This sounds perfect!)

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Reader’s question from children at the Inkpots Writers’ Hut; do you write in silence or do you need some noise around you? I like to listen to music. At the moment I have put my whole catalogue of music on shuffle and am working my way through it. Right now I’m on track 1183 of 3248 which is by The Pale Fountains. I love guitar bands, mostly from the Eighties but also up to date bands like the Arctic Monkeys.

Turkey or goose? Cauliflower cheese – see above!

Real or fake tree? Real. I wouldn’t bother if I couldn’t have a real tree.

Mince pies or Christmas pudding? Christmas pudding with brandy butter AND brandy cream.

Stockings –  end of the bed or over the fireplace? End of the bed although we leave mincepies, beer and a carrot by the fireplace.

Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve? I’ve never understood the joy of New Year’s Eve. I’m not a great fan of parties and don’t like getting drunk, so I prefer to stay in reading a good book. Christmas Eve is usually a frantic wrapping frenzy.

Thank you or taking part in our festive Q & A! Merry Christmas! 

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Find out more about  Jo on her website www.jofranklinauthor.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @JoFranklin2

 

13 December: Paul Magrs

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Paul Magrs takes a break from science fiction to get festive!

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Paul Magrs has published a number of YA novels; five original Doctor Who novels with BBC books, and over twenty original Doctor Who audiobooks / full cast dramas produced by Big Finish Productions and BBC Audio / Audiogo. The first in his epic Sci-Fi series Lost on Mars was published in May 2015 to critical acclaim and the sequel The Martian Girl was published in September.

Name three things on your Christmas list this year! There’s the new biography of the wonderful magical-realist writer Angela Carter by Edmund Gordon, and the new live album by Kate Bush, and the newly animated Doctor Who story, ‘Power of the Daleks’, reconstructed from the soundtrack of the lost episodes…  lots of nice things to choose from!  But I’ll be happy to get just one of them.

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Paul Magr’s Christmas Illustration!

(We absolutely love your Christmas illustration – thank you!)

Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions? Hideous family tensions and fights about who should be visiting and spending time with each other!

There are wonderful stories shared at Christmas time. What is your christmas-memoryfavourite story to read at Christmas? I have lots. I have two whole shelves dedicated to Christmas books I have collected over the years. My favourite individual story is ‘A Christmas Memory’ by Truman Capote, which is a mostly-autobiographical tale about how, when he was quite small, he and his best friend, Sook the housekeeper, would make thirty-two Christmas cakes every year and send them to a great long list of people. It’s a really wonderful, heart-breaking story.

If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be? My Big Nanna, who died just over fifteen years ago. She was a school cook and she made wonderful dinners. It would be great to spend one more Christmas with her. She would insist on everyone pulling crackers and wearing silly hats and playing games: the whole festive thing. One of my earliest Christmas memories is the entire family being crowded into her flat, and her getting me to dress up as Santa Claus when I was still a toddler, and walk into the living room dragging a huge bag of everyone’s presents.

Your fantastic science fiction novels are set on Mars. What would a Martian Christmas be like? The Martian settlers in my books took all their customs and rituals with them from Earth and kind of jumbled them up over time. On the prairie, in the Homesteads, they would have a grand barbecue and roast a lizard, perhaps, and all the neighbours would come to sing and dance. Ma would play her miniature harp. In the City Inside, they would try their best to have a kind of Victorian Christmas. Rich families would have something expensive and exotic for dinner, such as octopus. The robot furniture would leave everyone’s homes and wander the streets, carol-singing.

(Love the idea of carol-singing robot furniture!)

You’ve written for all the living Doctor Who’s!  How do you think Doctor Who would celebrate Christmas? Whenever he felt like it! Everyday for a year in different times and places, perhaps. And then he’d get fed up with it for ages. Also, whenever he turns up, it’s usually just as something dreadful and cosmic is about to start happening. So if he arrived on your doorstep on Christmas Eve, it might well herald a disastrous invasion or a ghastly time incursion.

winter-1027822_1920Reader’s question from the children at Inkpots Writers’ Hut: do you plan your writing? If so, how many plans do you write? I write quite intensive notes before setting off on a novel. I do this perhaps three or four times, beginning with a couple of lines, which then becomes a paragraph, which in turn becomes a whole page, which eventually becomes three pages. A synopsis longer than three pages is getting a bit long and over-complicated, in my experience. When it gets to three pages: start writing.

 

Turkey or goose? Turkey.

Real or fake tree? Real.

Mince pies or Christmas pudding? Pudding.

Stockings –  end of the bed or over the fireplace? Fireplace.

Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve? Christmas!

Thank you for taking part! Have a Happy Christmas!

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To find out more visit lifeonmagrs.blogspot.co.uk or www.fireflypress.com.Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmagrs