Wednesday, 15 February 2017

MAZ EVANS BLOG TOUR | Q&A with Maz Evans

Hello readers, and happy Thursday! Today I am very excited to be on blog tour to celebrate the publication of Maz Evans' Who Let The Gods Out? I absolutely loved this book and it kept me entertained throughout! Check out my review here:

Today I am welcoming Maz Evans to my blog for a Q&A, where we will find out about the inspiration behind Who Let The Gods Out?, the wonderful Story Stew, and what's so special about writing for children...

What is the inspiration behind Who Let The Gods Out?

I have always been a great lover of Greek mythology, so when I came to write my own book, it was the natural backdrop for my story. One day a random thought popped into my head (they often do): If the Gods are immortal, they must still be here… what are they doing? And so, the seed was planted…

Tell us a bit more about the main character, Elliot. Do you have anything in common with him?

Elliot has become my fifth child – I love him so much. I have a great fondness for cheeky kids and Elliot has a lovely dry wit. He doesn’t like following the rules, but many great people don’t. What he does have is an innate sense of justice and a quiet courage – he won’t shy away from danger, but he won’t make a fuss about it either. There are bits of me in all my characters – with Elliot, his backchat and aversion to mornings ring particularly true.

What made you want to write about Gods and Goddesses? Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

I believe you should always write what you’d want to read, so a funny book about mythology was my ideal. I had a working knowledge of classical mythology from school and university, but one of the great joys has been going back and reading all the different renderings of the myths – some of which are incredibly naughty!

Tell us about your experiences with Story Stew. What does the workshop involve?

Like so many things in my life, Story Stew was a happy accident. When I was lecturing in creative writing, my son’s teacher asked if I’d do some story writing with his primary school class. I’d never considered it before, but I loved it – kids and I get along as we share a similar sense of humour. Other schools started to ask and before I knew it, Story Stew became my full-time job. The workshops are anarchic, but at their heart teach a simple story structure that absolutely anyone can follow. It is my proud boast that every single person, child or adult, has produced a story in my classes. [smiles smugly, slips on banana skin]

Do you come up with the plot, or your characters first?

Plot should evolve naturally from your characters. Anyone who says otherwise needs a slap with a wet halibut. What is your character like? What do they want? And what do they need? How are they going to get it? What’s stopping them? There’s your plot. 

What inspires you to write?

Sheer, obsessional love of the art form. I have always loved the written word – as humans we have no more potent weapon in our arsenal. Think of the good/harm words can do? They are incredibly powerful and should be used with great respect. I hope that my words provide an escape hatch from life, but also hold a mirror to it. I love observing humanity. We’re bonkers.

What did you like to read as a kid?

Absolutely anything I could lay hands on – I devoured books like I now devour calories. Like Matilda, I read everything in my local library. I really loved anthologies with loads of different stories in. I really must write one at some point…

What’s special about writing for children?

Young minds are utterly brilliant. Kids see the world in such a wonderful, simple way. I hope I never lose that childlike wonder at our world. Yes, it has some dark scary corners – all the more reason for us to work together to switch on the light. And that’s what being a children’s author is for me – holding up a torch and saying “Look at this! How does it make you feel?” It’s an immense privilege. 

Are you working on any other projects at the minute?

Gods is the first of four books in the series, so I’m just finishing Book 2, which is also out this year, before plunging headlong into Books 3 & 4. I was a scriptwriter before I became an author and hopefully have a new show going on in the summer. So it’s going to be a busy year!

What advice would you give to aspiring young writers?

Read by the bucketload and keep going. Your first work is unlikely to be your best, so try to read it with someone else’s eyes – what is the story you really want to tell? Your story matters and we want to hear it. So work your socks off to get it out there.

Thank you, Maz, for taking the time to answer my questions! 

Buy Who Let The Gods Out here:

Check out Maz Evans here:

Until next time :) 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

ALL ABOUT MIA BLOG TOUR | 5 Minutes With... Lisa Williamson!

Hello readers, and happy Wednesday! Today I am very excited to be on blog tour, to celebrate the publication of the wonderful new YA release All About Mia by Lisa Williamson! I absolutely adored this book and I know it will definitely be one of my favourites of 2017. Check out my 5* review here!

Today I am welcoming the lovely Lisa to my blog, for an interview all about Mia (haha, see what I did there?!), her writing process and what advice she would give to aspiring writers.

Hi Lisa, and thanks for appearing on Delightful Book Reviews! So, what is the inspiration being AAM?

Upon completing TAOBN, I found it really difficult to decide what to write my second novel about. With TAOBN, I never wavered from the characters or subject matter, but this time round I was experiencing major commitment issues. I started about four different projects, often writing upwards of 20,000 words but every time I lost confidence, and resolved to start again, hoping my next idea would be 'the one'. The one thing all these abandoned projects had in common was a secondary character called Mia. She was brash, unapologetic and devoid of sentimentality. I loved her and so did my editor. In fact she was the one who gently suggested Mia deserved to be at the centre of a story of her own. I was in Brent Cross shopping centre when I thought about maybe writing a story from the perspective of an overshadowed middle child. My immediate instinct was the make this character very quiet and perhaps a little dowdy. Then Mia popped back in to my head and I decided to make her the middle child instead. The moment I sandwiched her between two high achieving sisters, her bad behaviour started to make sense to me. 

Tell us a bit more about the main character, Mia. Do you have anything in common with her?

Mia is sixteen years old. She is loud, daring and unafraid to speak her mind. She's outwardly very sexually confident and the natural leader amongst the friends. At home, it's a slightly different story. Her older sister, Grace, who’s nineteen, is incredibly academic, and her younger sister, Audrey, thirteen, is a champion swimmer. Mia doesn't feel she has any measurable skills or talent. In conjunction with her propensity for trouble, she feels like she's a constant disappointment to her parents.  

I have very little in common with Mia, especially when I think back to how I was at sixteen. I've always been quite cautious and tend to think before I act, whereas Mia blusters straight in and worries about the consequences later. I was also very shy and a bit of a worrier. I often felt like I wasn't quite fully formed yet and was resigned to having to wait until I was a bit older to truly feel comfortable in my own skin. Having said that, although Mia comes across as very confident, I think her bravado masks quite a bit of insecurity, so perhaps there are some similarities between us. I would never have worked that out at the time though. In fact I'd have probably been scared stiff of Mia! 

What made you want to write about siblings, in particular, sister relationships?

We're all inevitably influenced by our siblings (or lack of). For many of us, they're our first playmates, our first true friends. I've always been fascinated by birth order and the dynamics between siblings. As a kid, I was fascinated with the Walton sextuplets and would love watching the annual documentary programmes offering an insight into their lives. With just one older sister, I was always longed for more siblings and so idea of having five sisters to play and interact with looked like a dream come true. In comparison, being one of two seemed really quite lonely. Although I get on with my sister and love her very much, we've never been particularly close (growing up she alternated between bossing me about and ignoring me) and I've often wondered why this is and where is stems from. I love the brutal honestly that often comes hand-in-hand with sibling relationships. The expectation that their love is everlasting and unconditional often results in some spectacularly awful behaviour, which in turn is really, really good fun to write about. 

What was it like writing from Mia's perspective?

I loved it. From the very beginning, it felt immediate and authentic. I really liked how different she was – not only from me, but also from David and Leo from TAOBN. 

Do you normally come up the plot or characters first?

Characters first. I sometimes come up with a situation at the same time, but this often changes or disappears altogether. I find plotting in advance really, really hard. I never seem to know if a plotline is going to work until I actually write it. I also like to give the characters time to breathe before committing to a particular path for them. It's not the most economical way to write (I always end up with loads of deleted material) but it seems to be what I always end up doing!

Was the process for writing AAM different from writing TAOBN?

It was quite similar actually – lots of experimentation and false starts and deleted words. The initial thrust of Mia's plot was a love story and it took me ages to figure out Mia isn't the sort of girl to fall in love, at least not right now and not in the way I'd originally planned it. Once I'd worked out the spine of the story, things started to fall into place and Mia’s actions started to make more sense. In both cases, I really loved the editing process. I find first drafts hard. For me, the real excitement begins when I can concentrate on the nitty gritty and make the story as rich and detailed as it can possibly be. 

Why is YA literature so special?

I love how unafraid it is of exploring really intense emotions. I enjoy reading all sorts of fiction but I often read adult books and get the sense the author is holding back somehow, as if it’s undignified to completely let go and embrace the full spectrum of emotions. YA fiction doesn't have that self-consciousness. I love the sheer variety too; the range of books and voices out there is becoming richer and more diverse by the day. It's also so, so inventive. There's a playfulness there, whether it's in the voice, the structure or the story itself, that I just don't think you find as much in adult fiction. 

What piece of advice would you give to a young, aspiring writer?

Write! It sounds obvious but I often meet people who talk about wanting to write 'one day', but when pressed, reveal they're not doing anything about it now. And it's the now that's important. Writing is a muscle and you need to exercise it. You don't have to finish something; it doesn't have to be perfect; just get used to expressing yourself in the written form, whether that's keeping a diary, writing a poem, writing the beginning of a story or just scribbling down the odd few lines when inspiration strikes. Every little bit will gradually help you discover your voice. If possible, don't have publication as the only goal. It's so easy to get swept up in writing what you think people want to read. Try to block all that out and write the story only you can tell, that's when the real magic happens.

Sum up AAM in three words

Chaotic, addictive, unexpected.

Thank you so much, Lisa, for appearing on my blog! Make sure you guys check out the other spots on the tour <3

Buy All About Mia here:

Check out Lisa Williamson here:

Until next time :)

Monday, 6 February 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'All About Mia' by Lisa Williamson

Hello readers, and happy Monday! Today I am going to be reviewing a truly fabulous book I read recently by the marvellous Lisa Williamson – All About Mia

Lisa Williamson shot to fame with her debut novel The Art of Being Normal, and the YA community was ecstatic to hear that there was another book in the works! I personally couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, and I was so grateful when I was sent a review copy!

All About Mia is a wonderful, heartfelt story about the pains of growing up, sibling relationships, and the ups and downs that is a part of every family life. Mia is sixteen, wild, and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her. She is sandwiched between two sisters – Audrey, a swimming champion heading for the Olympics, and Grace, perfect in every way – away on an archaeological trip and destined for Cambridge, one of the top universities in the world. Mia, unaware of what her ‘thing’ is, finds life difficult living up to the expectations of her parents who already have two perfect daughters. But when things suddenly go wrong, can Mia step up to the plate? Or will she live up to her reputation, and let everything come crashing down around her?

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here…

One family, three sisters. GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student. AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion. And MIA, the mess in the middle. Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends - not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers. When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control - boozing, boys and bad behaviour - and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.

All About Mia was a wonderful read from start to finish. I cannot fault anything about it – it was one of those books that when you pick it up, you don’t want to put it down until you have devoured every single page. I fell in love with Mia from the very first page – her voice is vibrant, funny, and strikingly realistic and relatable. Although when I was sixteen I was nothing like Mia – I loved school, I stuck to the rules, and I (mostly) did what my parents told me to do, I loved getting to know her and realising there was a lot more to her than meets the eye. I think that most people forget that teenagers love reading about young people who aren’t perfect – who make mistakes, get things wrong and are sometimes stubborn about accepting these things.  Mia is a perfect example about what works in YA, and she is unlike any character I have read before.

I loved how realistic the portrayal was about family life in the story. There were so many situations and conversations that I can remember taking place in my own life, and I think everyone can relate to how Mia feels about her sister Grace, whether you are the middle child or not. All the characters were so complex and although the story was narrated by Mia, I felt that I got to know every single character inside and out, and it made me feel so personally connected to Mia and her story. The relationship between Mia and Audrey in particular is so beautiful and touching and I loved reading about the moments between them.

The story was faultless from beginning to end and in particular, the ending was wonderful. Lisa Williamson writes in such a way that you feel so invested about what happens in the book, and I think the characters in All About Mia will stay with me for a long time. I really hope that Lisa continues to write books for ever and ever and ever – I think every teenager needs to read All About Mia and realise that perfection isn’t everything – but caring for others and admitting when you do get things wrong, is all that matters.

Overall, I think that it’s pretty clear I adored All About Mia, and anyone of any age would love it too. So please, run to your nearest bookshop and pick it up -  I know that it will be one of my top reads for 2017 (and it’s only February!)

Buy All About Mia here:

Check out Lisa Williamson here:

Stay tuned for my spot on the blog tour on Wednesday!

Until next time :)

Saturday, 4 February 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Waiting For Callback: Take Two' by Perdita and Honor Cargill

Hello readers, and happy Saturday! Today I am very excited to share with you a review I have been so excited about writing –I adored this book so much and I can’t wait to share with you my thoughts about it.

That’s right, you guessed it, it is Waiting For Callback: Take Two by the lovely Perdita and Honor Cargill – superstar mother/daughter writing duo who are two of the most wonderful people (and YA writers) out there!

Waiting For Callback, their debut novel, was one of my favourite reads of last year (it won the Funniest Book prize in the DBR Awards) and once I had finished it I was desperate to get my hands on the sequel. Luckily, the wonderful people at Simon & Schuster sent me a proof copy and, in the midst of essay writing and exam revision (sorry Mum!) I dived straight in…

Waiting For Callback: Take Two follows teenager Elektra James as she transforms from aspiring actress to, well, a REAL LIFE actress, as she lands the lead role in a blockbuster film - Slater. The drama this brings is coupled with tension with her almost-boyfriend Archie, as he relocates to Transylvania to play a vampire hunter surrounded by countless beautifully tragic women, commotion with her co-stars and squabbling with her parents, who always know best. The question is, is it truly possible for Elektra to realise her Hollywood dream? Or will everything come crashing down at her feet?

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here…

Elektra has finally landed a part in a film. It's the dream. Well ...until she works out that Straker is a movie so dystopian that within weeks most of the cast and all of the crew wish that the world had actually ended (preferably in scene one). And while it's obviously great news that she's moved from the friend-zone with Archie to become his almost-girlfriend, it would be better if he hadn't immediately relocated to Transylvania to play a vampire hunter surrounded by 'maidens of peerless beauty'.

Full of humour and warmth, this new series is perfect for fans of Geek Girl and The It Girl.

A lot of authors talk about the ‘second book horror’, and how terrifying it can be to follow up a debut novel with another book. However, Perdita and Honor have absolutely nothing to worry about with this absolute star of a sequel.

I rated Waiting For Callback 5*s, and didn’t think Perdita and Honor could do any better. Waiting For Callback made me laugh, made me cry, made me cringe (quite a lot), but above all, it was a book that put me in an amazing mood and I never wanted to put it down. However, the Cargills have surpassed any expectations I had for Take Two. I would rate this book ten stars if I could!

Take Two continues the story of the first book amazingly well, and I loved that we got to learn about Elektra so much more, and see her progress from a young girl who dreamed about becoming an actress, to achieving the starring role in a feature film. I think Elektra is such a great role model for young girls and her inspiring qualities of determination and perseverance (even in the face of total cringeworthy moments that make me want to jump in a hole) are wonderful to see in a YA character. Elektra is so relatable and I loved learning more about her in Take Two.

Moss and Archie were two of my absolute FAVES in the first book, so I was pleased to see them feature a lot in this sequel. I didn’t think it was possible to adore them more than I did in the first book, but I did. If someone said I could either date someone like Archie, or have a best friend like Moss, I would have a very hard deciding who I would choose. That said (who am I kidding?!) I would love to be best friends with Moss. Elektra and Moss’ friendship is undoubtedly the best friendship I have read about in YA, and I love reading about them. Their tenacious hunts for biscuits inspired me unendingly. 
However, despite the side-splitting moments in Take Two, there are some things I absolutely cannot forgive Perdita and Honor for. The emotional distress I experienced, in relation to an incident involving ONE OF MY FAVOURITE CHARACTERS was unbelievable. You know what I’m talking about…

That said, I can to an extent forgive you both, because Take Two brought me so much joy. It’s such a cliché, but it’s true. It’s one of those books you want to keep close to you always, in case you need a pick me up, a reminder that sometimes, life ain’t that bad. If we are surrounded by good people, even the most difficult of situations can be worked out. Similarly to the first book, the voice was still fresh and funny and fabulously fun, written with a hell lot of heart. By reading this book you can really tell that Perdita and Honor truly love what they’re doing, and believe me, we all love what you guys are doing too <3

So, as you can probably tell, I ADORED Waiting For Callback: Take Two, and I think you should all run weirdly like Elektra (hands flapping and everything) to your nearest bookshop and pick up a copy!!!

Buy Waiting For Callback: Take Two here:

Check out Perdita and Honor here: