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Posts Tagged ‘Cranachan Publishing’

One of the things I love most about this feature is that it brings my attention to books that I might not have normally picked up or discovered otherwise, and today’s book is one of those. Tam O’Shanter is a tale that I’ve always been aware of, indeed I heard about it at school when I was young, various aspects of it woven into other stories and popular culture but the presentation of this book really intrigued me. Adapting the work of Robert Burns and turning it into a graphic novel makes it infinitely exciting, vibrant and accessible for younger readers.

  • Title: Tam O’Shanter
  • Author: Robert Burns
  • Adapted by: Richmond Clements
  • Illustration : Manga artist Inko
  • Publisher: Cranachan Books
  • Publication Date: 31st October 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

When Tam has one too many drinks on a big night out, his journey home turns into a terrifying ordeal as he runs into witches, warlocks—and the devil himself—in the local graveyard… Will Tam live to tell the tale?

This vibrant and appealing adaptation of Tam O’Shanter brings one of Roberts Burns’ best-loved works, and the Scots language, to life for a new generation through the medium of Manga.

My Thoughts:

I’ve been aware of the tale of Tam O’Shanter for years, but never actually read it fully, so when I heard that Cranachan Books were publishing a Manga style graphic novel of the tale, I was really intrigued. Would this make reading the story easier? Would the storytelling be improved with the illustrations?

As I read through the book, I was thrilled to see it come to life through the vibrant and fun artwork, the Scots language flows well and carries the reader off on the exciting adventure that Tam and his trusty mare embark on. The beasties and ghouls that Tam sees on the ride home after a skinful of drink intrigue and worry him. But our intrepid and inebriated hero soon calls out and draws attention to himself when he calls out to the dancing witch, Nannie. The ensuing chase towards the River Doon sees Tam fleeing for his life and brings about the reason for Maggie losing her tail.

I enjoyed exploring the story, finding out details that I’d not known before. The vibrancy of the illustrations makes the story easier to read and understand, the Scots language is often hard to interpret written down and so the artwork by Inko gives great context to allow readers to grasp what’s happening even if they don’t fully “get” what the words are telling them. I raise my hat to the the team behind this publication, it’s fun and accessible so that youngsters might feel an excitement at learning a tale from Burns, unlike the dread I and some of my classmates felt at school when we learned we were to study Burns. The language was like wading through treacle and we didn’t have the wonderful illustrations like these to capture our attentions.

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Today I am utterly thrilled to share my review of Caroline Logan’s debut novel, the first book in the Four Treasures Series.

  • Title: The Stone of Destiny
  • Authors: Caroline Logan
  • Publisher: Gob Stopper (an imprint of Cranachan Publishing)
  • Publication Date: 1st October 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:
Ailsa doesn’t believe in faerie tales, only the monsters in them. But, with the mark on her face, most people consider her one of them—a changeling.

Her secluded life shifts when she rescues two selkies from bloodthirsty raiders. Now she must act as their guard as they travel to the capital and then, with the help of the Prince of Eilanmòr, journey north to find The Stone of Destiny—the only object protecting them all from the evil faerie queen.

But all her life a malignant creature has stalked her through the forest. Can Ailsa find The Stone of Destiny before something wicked finds her?

My Thoughts:
Before I say anything about the insides of this book, can we take a wee moment to appreciate the loveliness of that cover … it’s stunning! The moment I saw it, I was captivated and wanted to reach out and touch it. Just a hint at the magic and wonders that are contained within the pages of Caroline Logan’s debut novel.

From the moment we meet Ailsa, the reader can see that she is a strong character, one who can fend for herself and isn’t easily put off by hard work. And as you progress through the first pages, there is so much to take in, from the breathtaking beauty of the wild beach and surroundings, the intrigue of the screams Ailsa hears and the moments packed with action that have you on the edge of your seat.
The adventure that Ailsa and the rescued selkies go on makes for a highly entertaining read, a thrilling and addictive one that kept me turning pages long into the evening. I’d started reading The Stone of Destiny, intending to read a chapter or two in the evening, but was curled up on the sofa hours later, lost in the world of Eilanmòr and faerie tale creatures.

Strong and well constructed characters are a key element of this book, from the wonderfully heroic Ailsa, the humorous and quick witted Harris, the cool and calm Iona, each of these creations are superbly detailed, multidimensional, they become real as you read more about them and spend time in their company.
The vivid descriptions are not limited to the characters, the landscapes that appear in the book are so clearly described that it’s hard not to envision them, experience the merriment of ceilidhs, the luxury of the foods and the perilous dangers that our intrepid adventurers face.
Faerie tale creatures are always fascinating, and the cast that appear in this book are wonderfully captivating, and as the story unfolds we learn more about them and the folklore associated with them, opening up another thread of spellbinding storytelling from a very promising author.

Although this book is aimed at a Young Adult audience, readers aged 13 plus, it will appeal to readers of all ages. It’s the sort of magical read that carries you off on a wave of excitement and has you desperate to find out what will happen next!

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  • Title: Girl in a Cage
  • Author: Jane Yolen & Robert J Harris
  • Publisher: Gob Stopper (an imprint of Cranachan Publishing)
  • Publication Date: 20th June 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

DAUGHTER OF THE OUTLAW KING. PRISONER IN THE LAND OF THE ENEMY.

When her father, Robert the Bruce, is crowned King of Scotland, Marjorie Bruce becomes a princess. But Edward Longshanks, the ruthless King of England, captures Marjorie and keeps her prisoner in a wooden cage in the centre of a town square, exposed to wind, rain, and the bullying taunts of the townspeople.

Marjorie knows that despite her suffering and pain, she must stay strong: the future of Scotland depends on her…

Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris bring to life a breathless chapter from Scottish history in this thrilling novel with an unforgettable young heroine.

My Thoughts:

Robert the Bruce is a name I am very familiar with, his part in Scottish history was appeared in many tales as I grew up and so I was eager to read Girl in a Cage to find out more about this character and the struggles faced by one of the most important people in his life, his eldest daughter Marjorie.

Marjorie Bruce is exactly what you would expect from a young girl, headstrong and views the world as black and white, right and wrong. But she has the luxury of being the daughter of Lord, and therefore has received an education and sits in a place of privilege. When her father is crowned as King of Scots in 1306, she becomes a princess. It is around this time that things being to go wrong for the Bruce family. Without giving a history lesson, I will say that the Bruce’s end up running and fighting for their lives, their survival depending on their allies.

Through Marjorie, the reader experiences the exceptionally atmospheric settings of this book, the things she sees and feels, we experience them too. Her worries about her father and uncles, her unhappiness about being treated as a child and excluded from adult conversations but most of all her inability to make sense of the events around her. As events unfold and their positions becomes precarious, Marjorie and her family flee for various places of safety around Scotland, trying to stay one step ahead of their enemies and those who would do them harm. Along with her father’s second wife, two of her aunts and the Countess of Buchan, Marjorie was captured by the Earl of Ross. Her fate was a imprisonment at the hands of Edward Longshanks. For a young girl, this seems like an incredibly harsh punishment, and indeed Marjorie voices this thought throughout her confinement, but she never lets others see the torment that this causes her. She shows great strength and courage, all the time thinking about her father and his men, fighting for the good of their country, fighting for their beliefs.

Powerful writing makes this such a gripping read, and I found at times I was desperately reading on, hoping that things might improve in the short term for Marjorie. Her time in the cage was physically and mentally hard on her, the townspeople and monks in the priory were forbidden to speak to her and the rations she was given were barely enough to keep her going. But she found an inner strength despite this torment, she was defiant to the face of Edward Longshanks, she would not be beaten by him or his army, not whilst her father, uncles and countrymen were still out there fighting.

A thrilling and powerful read for any age reader, one steeped in history and woven together with charm and wonderful detail.

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Celebrating Indie Publishing today has a book that I was so excited to read an early copy of and I was not disappointed. Cranachan Publishing are fast earning a reputation for great books that capture the imaginations and hearts of their readers, and they’ve well and truly secured mine with their marvellous books! And if the review wasn’t enough, the author has also taken part in a Q&A

  • Title: Sonny and Me
  • Author: Ross Sayers
  • Publisher: Gob Stopper (an imprint of Cranachan Publishing)
  • Publication Date: 16th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

FOURTH YEAR. TWO PALS. ONE MURDER. WELCOME TO BATTLEFIELD HIGH…

‘Whoever said yer school days are the best days ae yer life was at the absolute wind up. I hink maist adults dinnae mind whit it was really like. Wait til yeese hear whit Sonny and me got detention for…’

Daughter and Sonny are two best friends just trying to get through fourth year at high school. But when their favourite teacher leaves unexpectedly, and no one will say why, the boys decide to start their own investigation.

As they dig deeper into the staff at Battlefield High, they discover a dark secret which one person will kill to protect… Will they uncover the truth without being expelled? Can their friendship survive when personal secrets are revealed?

My Thoughts:

Ross Sayers was a name that first grabbed my attention with his debut novel Mary’s The Name in 2017, a book that I have read a few times since publication and somehow the magic from that story has stayed with me despite the numerous books I’ve read since.

As the first book from Cranachan Publishing’s new imprint Gob Stopper, Sonny and Me is the perfect book to set a high standard for others to follow. The writing is packed with humour and charming wit, an exciting plot and some fantastic characters that readers cannot help but love.

Battlefield High seems like an ordinary secondary school, full of teenagers all trying to find ways to be themselves and not stand out too much from the crowd. Two of these teenagers are best friends Daughter and Sonny, who are less than happy when their favourite teacher leaves and are the only ones not to know about the scandal that is rife through their school. Throw in a murder and you’ve got the makings of a madcap journey through the pages that will have readers racing through the book, caught up with the humour and the excitement of uncovering the dastardly figure behind the goings on.

Ross Sayers has the wonderful gift of giving his characters a unique voice, regardless of age or gender. And like in Mary’s the Name, he brings his main character to life so vividly, the voice of Daughter is realistic and clear. I cannot imagine that it’s easy to get into the workings of a teenage mind, follow the train of thought and stay rooted there throughout, but Sayers makes it seem effortless. What makes this a more impressive read is the fact that Sayers writes in dialect that brings the language alive. At times I felt like I could “hear” the conversations taking place between the characters and had to stifle giggles at their exchanges.

But aside from the humour and fun, there are some serious topics woven into the narrative. The exploration of the themes is done well and care is taken to handle them sensitively. Sayers demonstrates the intricacies of juggling life with what is expected of a young person with their want to do the right thing or stand against the grain to be their own person. And in doing this, he ensures that his writing is well rounded, easy to read and immensely enjoyable.
Although Sonny and Me is a Young Adult novel, I do think that this is a book that readers of any age can read and enjoy.


Author Feature:

Ross studied English in his hometown of Stirling. Not content with the one graduation, he completed a Masters in Creative Writing the following year. His stories and poems have featured in magazines such as Octavius and Quotidian. Ross also tried his hand at acting in the university’s Drama Society, which gave him valuable life experience at being an extra with no lines.

One of his short stories, Dancin’, was used on West College Scotland’s Higher English course. He only found out after a student tweeted him requesting a copy of the story so she could finish her essay.

Ross mainly reads contemporary and literary fiction, and loves it when a writer remembers to include an interesting plot. He heartily endorses not finishing books which bore you.

While researching Mary’s the Name in Portree, gift shop employees excitedly mistook him for Daniel Radcliffe; Ross had to burst their bubble. But at a football match in London, he agreed to have his photo taken with a wee boy, who believed he was Harry Potter, to save any tears or tantrums.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Probably seems obvious but when someone finishes one of my books and tells me they enjoyed it! It’s a lot of work and it makes it all worth it. Particularly the extreme reactions, either laughter or uncontrollable sobbing. Either’s good.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

I’d say how long everything takes. In my experience there’s 2 years between starting a book and it being released. That’s a long time to re-read your work and convince yourself it’s rubbish.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

I think something huge and epic like Game of Thrones. The world’s fantasy writers create are amazing and so thorough. I don’t know if I’ve got the stamina for that!

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

I have a full time job so that takes up most of my time sadly. At the weekends I like to read, watch a bit of Netflix, and catch up with friends.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

Not really! I like to have the telly on in the background, something I don’t need to pay too much attention to. It tends to be at night after work. If I can get 1000 words done I’m happy!

What’s on the horizon? 

So I’m working on my third novel currently. It’s about a young woman who goes back in time 16 days on the Glasgow Subway and has to save a life to get back to her own timeline…

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be?

If you’re not enjoying a book, put it down and grab another! Even if it’s one of mine! As long as you’ve paid for it! Just don’t return it to get your money back or something silly like that.

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it? 

Sonny and Me is the story of two boys in fourth year of high school who uncover a murder mystery within the staff at their school… It’s like Still Game meets the Inbetweeners and if that doesn’t sell it to you then I don’t know what to say.

A huge thank you to Ross for joining me today for a chat, it’s a huge privilege to welcome indie authors to The Quiet Knitter blog to speak about their books, their writing habits and find out what their next project might be about.

To find out more about Ross and his books, check out his website or his hilarious tweets on Twitter!
Website: http://rosssayers.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sayers33

Check out the blog tour!

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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Barbara Henderson’s latest novel Wilderness Wars, an eco thriller set on a Scottish island. And if this wasn’t brilliant enough, Barbara has also written a guest piece for today’s stop on the tour “The Supernatural in Wilderness Wars”.

Wilderness Wars Ebook Cover with Quote

** My thanks to the lovely folks at Cranachan Books and Barbara Henderson for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take par in the blog tour **

 

Description:

What if nature fights back?

Still in a daze, I take it all in: the wind, the leaden skies, the churning moody sea.
And, far in the distance, a misty outline.
Skelsay.
Wilderness haven. Building-site. Luxury-retreat-to-be.
And now, home.

When her father’s construction work takes Em’s family to the uninhabited island of Skelsay, she is excited, but also a little uneasy. Soon Em, and her friend Zac, realise that the setbacks, mishaps and accidents on the island point to something altogether more sinister: the wilderness all around them has declared war.

Danger lurks everywhere. But can Em and Zac persuade the adults to believe it before it’s too late?

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit to being a huge fan of Barbara Henderson’s writing, I have been since I read her first book Fir for Luck. There’s a richness in the words that she skillfully weaves together to paint a vivid picture of the story playing out before your eyes.
Like in each of her books, strong characters come to life from the pages and lead readers on a merry adventure through the book.

Em is a young lass who has moved with her family, and several other people to an uninhabited island named Skelsay with the plan of building a luxury hotel and holiday resort. Immediately I felt a connection with Em, something about this feisty young girl made my heart soar with pride. She’s not too happy about the family’s move, she wanted to stay in Glasgow, not move to a remote island, especially not to cramped living quarters or being cooped up with her annoying little brother so much. There’s something in Em’s personality that readers will be able to connect with, she struggles to comprehend the adult world and the decisions they make at times. Whilst she’s not an adult, she does have the makings of a mature head on her young shoulders, demonstrating that she can understand the importance of doing or saying the right thing at times.

As you might expect from the description of the book, the atmospheric setting plays a very important part in the tale. The vivid imagery conjures a bleak yet intriguing landscape and as the construction work gets underway, it’s not hard to envision the various changes to the surroundings. The way that nature takes on a sinister edge makes this such a gripping read, is the wilderness really turning on the construction workers and their families? Is this all in the imagination of Em and her new friend Zac?

The plotting is exciting and the intrigue interwoven throughout makes this the sort of book that you want to race through to find out how it’s all going to come together, find out what lies ahead. It’s a truly remarkable novel and one that I would heartily recommend to readers old and young.

You can buy a copy of Wilderness Wars via:

Cranachan Publishing
Amazon UK
Waterstones

 

Guest post by Barbara Henderson:

Unbelievable!

A supernatural eco-thriller? For children?

It’s not the genre that would spring to mind when scanning through the 9-12 Market, the readership most likely to read and enjoy my books. Does it need a supernatural element at all?

For large chunks of Wilderness Wars, nothing supernatural happens at all – The workforce moves to the island and spend time setting themselves up as a community: tidying and arranging and organising their lives. Beginning to form a routine. The mishaps and accidents, at the beginning at least, feel utterly commonplace, as if the islanders are simply beset by a little bit of bad luck.

But bad luck on its own does not make for a compelling story. It’s simply not enough. Barry Cunningham, the publisher who famously gave a wee manuscript called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone its first break, has said that the single most important feature he looks for in a story is ‘a formidable opponent’.

There are one or two characters who might fall into this category, but the core idea of the novel ‘What if nature fights back’ requires that the wilderness itself become the opponent, the threat, the one who has it in for my characters.

It is a formidable enemy: Weather, land, sea, plants and creatures unite in my book in a single purpose: to force the tiny workforce of construction workers and their families off this island once and for all. This requires a considerable jump in the imagination: I am asking the reader to suspend their disbelief, and to accept that the whole of the natural world can co-ordinate itself to fight back, to draw the line, and to say: this far and no further.

And yet, is a simple enough concept, and one that readers, so far, have engaged with pretty readily. Just like in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, where the liquid turns a range of colours and the transformation into the monster simply happens. Readers aren’t giving scientific facts: they are given an outcome, and the outcome is the only thing which matters.

The only other flash of the supernatural in Wilderness Wars is Em’s vision. She has a vivid dream of the worst possible outcome, if the adults do not agree to leave the island. Step by step, the various of her vision appear in real life, and she now understands the inevitable destruction which awaits. It sets up the final climax of the novel, a life and death sort of jeopardy which, I hope, propels the reader forward.

Without the supernatural component, it would be a story of predictable morality: look after your environment, respect the wilderness. Yawn, yah-de-yah – a lecture book with no drama.

On the other hand, with the terrifying concept that you have incurred the wrath of the whole natural world around you, it becomes a tense survival story, a chase, a war. There are battle lines and strategies, and ultimately, a final showdown. It delivers all the lessons and provokes all the thinking the boring version would, but subtly hidden within A BARRAGE OF DRAMATIC LIFE AND DEATH ACTION.

I know which version I’d rather read!

 

About the Author: rpt

Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school.
Writing predominantly for children, Barbara won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition in 2012, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition in 2013 and was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013. In 2015, wins include the US-based Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition. She blogs regularly at write4bairns.wordpress.com where full details of her writing achievements can also be found.
Barbara is currently based in Inverness.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.barbarahenderson.co.uk/
Twitter: @scattyscribbler
Blog: write4bairns.wordpress.com

 

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As we’re almost half way through the year I figured that it might be a good time to round up some of the great indie books that I’ve featured so far, and some of the great authors who have given their time to take part in the author interviews.

Links to each of the book features and author features are below, alternatively if you want to use the search function at the top of the page just type in the name of the book or author to bring up the relevant page.

The books that have featured:

Book Feature Links:

Goblin – Ever Dundas
The Wreck of The Argyll – John K. Fulton
Blue Night – Simone Buchholz
The Trouble Boys – E.R. Fallon
Last Orders – Caimh McDonnell
Never Rest – Jon Richter
Spanish Crossings – John Simmons
Rose Gold – David Barker
Bermuda – Robert Enright
The Story Collector – Evie Gaughan
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter – Cherry Radford
Rebellious Spirits – Ruth Ball
Ten Year Stretch – Various
The Soldier’s Home – George Costigan
Burnout – Claire MacLeary

 

The authors who have taken part in author features, either alongside a book feature or alone:

 

Author Feature Links:

E.R. Fallon
Derek Farrell
Heather Osborne
Jon Richter
Steve Catto
Mark Tilbury
David Barker
Evie Gaughan
Cherry Radford
Anne Stormont
George Costigan

As always, I am forever grateful to the authors, publishers, and publicists for taking part in my Celebrating Indie Publishing feature.  I’m also deeply grateful to you, the reader for joining me each Friday and sharing my love of indie publishing, joining in, commenting, sharing posts and buying some of these wonderful books.

Without each of the fantastic people mentioned above, none of this would be possible!

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Today I am so excited to share the cover of Barbara Henderson’s new book with you!  If you’ve been following my blog for the past year or so, you will have seen that I have a real soft spot for Barbara’s books.  There’s something so magical about the way she weaves together her stories, the characters pop off the pages and each of her books holds a special place in my heart so it’s a great honour to be able to share the cover of Wilderness Wars with you along with a wee guest post written by Barbara too.

Publication date for Wilderness Wars is 16 August 2018 and I’m pretty sure that preorder links will be available soon (as soon as I get them I will be placing my order so will let you all know!), but meantime, here’s the book blurb before you see THAT cover!

Description:

What if nature fights back?

In a daze, I take it all in: the wind, the leaden skies, the churning moody sea.

And, far in the distance, a misty outline.

Skelsay.

Wilderness haven. Building-site. Luxury-retreat-to-be.

And now, home.

When her father’s construction work takes Em’s family to the uninhabited island of Skelsay, she is excited, but also a little uneasy. Soon Em and her friend Zac realise that the setbacks, mishaps and accidents on the island point to something altogether more sinister: the wilderness all around them has declared war.

Danger lurks everywhere. But can they persuade the adults to believe them it before it’s too late?

 

 

 

Wilderness Wars EBOOK.jpg

Wow!  What a cover, isn’t it spectacular?  I cannot wait to read this and find out what happens on the island of Skelsay!

 

And now, the fab guest piece by Barbara about the book, the journey to the cover image and why it’s perfect!

 

Wilderness Wars… great title!’ So said a writer friend at the beginning of the writing process. She had no idea what the book was going to be about, and to be fair, neither had I. All I had was the question which would become the tagline: What if nature fights back?

Intrigued by the concept, I began to spin a tale of mishaps and escalation, of real threat and frustration, of danger and ultimately, of disaster. I lived and breathed those moments with my characters. This was a story I didn’t like writing: I LOVED writing this story. The first draft was completed in 2013, and if anyone had asked me what my favourite of my seven completed novels was, I’d have chosen Wilderness Wars without hesitation.

I can’t even explain why – I think my writing is much more poetic in Fir for Luck, and the structure in Punch is probably tighter. But I had a connection with the subject which has only intensified with the subsequent years of Trumpish arrogance: When is it ok to impose our agenda on the natural world, and to take without giving back? And how far is too far? How can we protect the wild places we have left from short-term profiteers like Ian Pratt in my book? I was hugely invested in this book, whether it ever saw the light of day or not. I was ecstatic when Cranachan decided to take it on.

However, without realising it, I also had a fairly fixed idea in my head of what the cover needed:

Threat and darkness. Waves. Earth and sea colours, and drama – lots and lots of it! Could I get away with another running silhouette? How could a battle of such unequal parties be shown, and how could it captivate young people – and the adults who buy books for them

I hadn’t realised how inflexible I had become until Cranachan’s designer Anne Glennie and I had ‘the cover discussion’. I had sent her image after image of, essentially, the same thing: a stylised giant wave. In her patience with me she had a go at manipulating lots of options but also threw in some images which were very different. I dismissed them one after the other in my mind, but the vibrant blue, the jaggy shards of rock and the seemingly idyllic blue sky of this particular design drew me magnetically towards it. It wasn’t what I had thought of, but it was vibrant. Attractive and majestic, without being cosy – the birds have no eyes, for goodness’ sake! Creepy enough to suggest a threat, surely.

Time for the final test: I placed the image on the computer screen and walked away as far as I could in the house. Turning, I opened my eyes and wham! It would have the impact it needed, across a bookshop. The power to draw readers towards it.

This realisation was the thin wedge Anne needed, the seed of doubt which allowed me to finally let go of my boring wave.

And man, am I glad I did. It’s a stunner, this cover, and my screensaver for everything.

EVERYTHING!

I LOOOOOVE it!

About the Author:

IMG_2648

Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school.
Writing predominantly for children, Barbara won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition in 2012, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition in 2013 and was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013. In 2015, wins include the US-based Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition. She blogs regularly at write4bairns.wordpress.com where full details of her writing achievements can also be found.
Barbara is currently based in Inverness.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.barbarahenderson.co.uk/
Twitter: @scattyscribbler
Blog: write4bairns.wordpress.com

 

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Another Friday and another wonderful book to share with you from the mind of the hugely talented John K. Fulton.  Last year I was incredibly fortunate to read a copy of John’s second novel The Beast on The Broch  and absolutely fell in love with the way he writes, bringing the stories alive through the eyes of a younger perspective and giving me a glimpse of a world I’d never experienced.  Today I am honoured to be able to share a review with you of The Wreck of The Argyll which is set in 1915 Dundee and is the tale of plucky young Nancy Caird and Jamie Balfour.

 

9781911279297_1

** My thanks to Anne at Cranachan Books for my copy of this wonderful book **

 

Description:

WHEN YOUR TEACHER’S A SPY, WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

Dundee, 1915.

When twelve-year-old Nancy suspects one of her teachers is a German spy, she ropes in the reluctant Jamie Balfour to help her uncover the scheme.

Midshipman Harry Melville is aboard HMS Argyll in the stormy North Sea, unaware of both hidden rocks and German plots that threaten the ship. Nancy and Jamie discover HMS Argyll is in deadly danger and they are drawn into a web of espionage, secrets, and betrayal, where no-one is as they seem and no-one can be trusted.

My Thoughts & Review:

The Wreck of The Argyll is a wonderful tale that explores the idea of WWI and spies through the eyes of 12-year-old Nancy Caird and her unwilling companion Jamie Balfour.  But also gives readers a glimpse into the life of a young Naval crewman on his first mission at sea in what proves to be a drama packed journey.

Nancy is the perfect mix of inquisitive, brave and determined, and so it’s only natural for our young protagonist to feel she’s wasting her time attending school when there’s a war on and her time could be better spent contributing to the war effort.  She fancies herself as a detective and is soon on the case of an enemy agent, following one of her teachers down the darkened streets of Dundee.  She’s sure that he must be a spy, and is out to prove it when she stumbles across a situation that even her quick thinking can’t save her from.  Her rescue by Jamie Balfour marks the beginning of a new friendship, and a new partner in the hunt for an enemy spy.

Meanwhile, aboard the HMS Argyll a young Midshipman is finding his feet on his first ship at sea, a rather stormy sea.  The conditions for sailing are far from perfect and it soon transpires that this ship must get to it’s destination and avoid the enemy at all costs.  Whilst Midshipman Harry Melville may come across as mature and responsible, it’s hard to remember that he is only a young lad, not that much older than Nancy Caird and Jamie Balfour.

The thread of the plot around the ship and crew is fascinating and holds so much intrigue.  The tension is perfectly paced with some superb characters that readers will eagerly race through to find out what will happen next.  But equally, the storyline of Nancy, Jamie and the spy is absolutely wonderful.  The dialogue and characters are spot on and work so fantastically.  The snippets of historical information are cleverly woven into the plot and make this hugely enjoyable, I loved the attitudes and sense of humour of the returning soldiers.

Casting a young person as the driver for the story allows readers a rare glimpse into a mindset that questions things at face value.  The way that Nancy sees something is wrong and feels that she must do something about it is commendable.  Perhaps it’s because of her young age that she’s not world-weary yet, or perhaps it’s her nature, but either way it makes for a wonderfully rich and authentic tale that draws readers in and makes them feel flutters of excitement, momentary dread and carried them off on a whirlwind adventure.

A fascinating and exciting tale that I would highly recommend for all readers with some very important messages sprinkled throughout the text, namely that working together will help you overcome obstacles.

So highly recommended!!

You can buy a copy of The Wreck of The Argyll via:

Cranachan Publishing (publisher)
Wordery
Amazon UK

 

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I am so excited to be able to share the cover of a remarkable book with you today, this has to be one of my highly anticipated reads this year and I’m sure once you see the cover and find out a little more about it you will see why and may be persuaded to check it out too!

A Pattern of Secrets EBOOK COVER FINAL

A Victorian mystery for children, A Pattern of Secrets, is Lindsay Littleson’s third novel and will be published by Cranachan Publishing on 16 April 2018. 

 

Description:

Can the secrets of the past save the future?

The worlds of rich and poor collide in this gripping Victorian adventure as Jim and Jessie unravel the past and its pattern of secrets…

Paisley 1876. 12-year-old Jim has escaped from the Poor House and now he must save his little brother from the same fate.

His only hope lies in a mysterious family heirloom—a Paisley-patterned shawl that has five guineas sewn into its hem—the price of freedom.

Now Jim must find the shawl and break into the big house to steal it back…

But the girl with the red hair is always watching…

You can pre-order a copy via the publisher today

 

The cover from the publisher’s perspective, Anne Glennie:

We really want our authors to love their covers and one of the advantages of being a small publisher is that we can work closely with our authors. From the beginning, Lindsay had been sending me wee pictures, colour ideas and fabric samples – so I started to build up a mental picture quite quickly. We had to have Paisley pattern fabric, including deep purple shades. As the book is a Victorian mystery, the cover needed to suggest this too – so a fancy Victorian font was in order. Then we needed our protagonists, Jessie and Jim and, although the books are historical, we want them to be just as attractive to our readers – so that means no period costumes; silhouettes were perfect for this cover! Then it was simply a case of adding some final touches to hint at the sewing/fabric theming. Luckily, Lindsay loved all of the cover versions I sent her – the hardest job for us was choosing the final one!

 

The cover from the author’s perspective, Lindsay Littleson:

If I had talent in book cover design, I would have designed this cover for A Pattern of Secrets, so thank you, Anne Glennie of Cranachan Books!

During the last year I have bombarded poor Anne with photographs of random items in bright pink, red and purple Paisley patterns. The famous pattern is such an integral part of my story that I was very keen for it to be on the cover in some way, but had no clear idea of how that could be achieved.

Thankfully, Anne is multi-talented, and when she sent me the first cover ideas I was absolutely thrilled by how she’d managed to include Paisley pattern without making the cover look too busy.  The glowing colours are really striking against the black background and the ornate Victorian title font is gorgeous in gold. The little golden thimble and reels of thread give further hints that this is a story set in Paisley’s rich textile past.

Anne produced several stunning covers, some with a single silhouette, but we both decided that having the boy and girl silhouettes on the front cover was vital, as the story is told from the perspective of both children; Jessie, the feisty daughter of a wealthy Paisley shawl manufacturer, and Jim, a homeless boy on a desperate quest to save his family. Their stories are equally important, two separate strands that weave together as Jessie joins Jim in a frantic race against time to solve the mystery of the missing heirloom before his mother and siblings are torn apart.

With such a gorgeous cover, who wouldn’t want this novel on their bookshelf?

About the Author:

Lindsay Littleson has four grown-up (ish) children and lives near Glasgow. A full-time primary teacher, she began writing for children in 2014 and won the Kelpies Prize for her first children’s novel The Mixed Up Summer of Lily McLean. The sequel, The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean, is also published by Floris Books. In 2015 her WW1 novel Shell Hole was shortlisted for the Dundee Great War Children’s Book Prize and she enjoyed engaging in research so much that she was inspired to write another historical novel, A Pattern of Secrets, this time focusing on her local area.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.lindsaylittleson.co.uk
Twitter: @ljlittleson

 

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As we close out the year and look forward to the approaching New Year, I wanted to round up all of the posts I’ve been lucky enough to feature from independent publishers and authors this year.  There have been so many brilliant books, wonderful authors and lovely publishers who have been part of my Friday feature and I cannot begin to thank them enough for entrusting me with their books and tales, it’s an honour to be asked to review any book and I always feel so privileged.

I’ve recapped the posts from Urbane Publications, Orenda Books and No Exit Press so far, and due to flu I’ve not had a chance to pull together the posts for the other publishers who have been part of Celebrating Indie Publishing yet, but here goes!  A huge end of year round up of Indie Publishing on The Quiet Knitter.

Bloodhound Books:

Review of Death Parts Us & Author Feature with Alex Walters

Review of End of Lies by Andrew Barrett

Bombshell Books:

Review of The Trouble With Words & Author Feature with Suzie Tullett

Elliott & Thompson:

Review of The Classic FM Musical Treasury by Tim Lihoreau

Review of Foxes Unearthed: A Story of Love and Loathing in Modern Britain by Lucy Jones

Review of Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing by Richard Smyth

Review of Hitler’s Forgotten Children by Ingrid Von Oelhafen and Tim Tate

Review of Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags by Tim Marshall

Review of Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People by Julia Boyd

Review of What’s Your Bias? The Surprising Science of Why We Vote the Way We Do by Lee De-Wit

Review of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones

Cranachan Books:

Review of Fir For Luck & Author Feature with Barbara Henderson

Review of The Beast on The Broch & Author Feature with John K. Fulton

Review The Revenge of Tirpitz & Author Feature with Michelle Sloan

Review Buy Buy Baby & Author Feature with Helen MacKinven

Review Charlie’s Promise & Author Feature with Annemarie Allan

Review Nailing Jess by Triona Scully

Review Punch by Barbara Henderson

The Dome Press:

Review Sleeper & Author Feature with J.D. Fennell

Black and White Publishing:

Review The Ludlow Ladies’ Society by Ann O’Loughlin

Modern Books:

Review De/Cipher: The Greatest Codes by Mark Frary

Review Literary Wonderlands Edited by Laura Miller

 

And not forgetting the wonderful authors who have been involved:

Anne Goodwin

Review of Underneath & Author Feature

Carol Cooper

Review of Hampstead Fever & Author Feature

Clare Daly

Review of Our Destiny is Blood & Author Feature

Ray Britain

Review of The Last Thread & Author Feature 

 

Wow, what a year it’s been!  I can honestly say that I’ve discovered some absolutely brilliant books this year, some were ones that I might not have noticed if I had not been making such an effort to read more indie books – just shows you, there are hidden gems out there, you just have to open your eyes to the possibilities of brilliance!

Thank you authors, publishers, readers, bloggers, everyone who has taken time to read my Celebrating Indie Publishing feature, everyone who has commented on the posts, your support this year has been immense and I definitely would not have managed this without you all.

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