Guest Post from Bleach House Library Blog

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http://bleachhouselibrary.blogspot.ie/2014/05/mia-interviews-author-erika-mcgann.html

 

Mia interviews author Erika McGann about the award winning “The Demon Notebook”

Last week Mia and I were lucky enough to meet with the fantastic Erika McGann and have a chat about her award winning children’s book The Demon Notebook.  Mia had lots of questions and was truly delighted to be able to chat with Erika about books, cakes and Ouija boards!

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Debut Irish children’s author Erika McGann has been announced as the winner of this year’s Waverton Good Read Children’s Award. McGann scooped the award for her deliciously spooky debut novel,The Demon Notebook, beating seventeen other shortlisted titles for the top spot.

More young readers will soon fall under the spell of The Demon Notebook as it has been selected as a recommended read in the fantasy/sci-fi category for this year’s ‘Read for my School’ campaign run by Booktrust.

The story continues in the sequel, The Broken Spell, which is out now and the third book in the series,The Watching Wood, will be published in Ireland and the U.K. in September. U.S. rights for both The Demon Notebook and The Broken Spell have been sold to Sourcebooks, with The Demon Notebookset for publication in the U.S. next month.

Here is a sneak peek at the wonderful USA cover of The Demon Notebook : 

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Mia’s review of The Demon Notebook

 

Grace and her four friends want to be witches, but it turns out to be harder than they thought! After a session with a Ouija Board, strange things start to happen and the girls lives are about to change.

This book is definitely in my top three reads of all time.  The story is full of mystery and magic. The five friends are in secondary school and often get picked on by the school bully, Tracy Murphy, and want to get even. Unfortunately, things get a bit out of control and the girls need to get help from a local witch, Mrs Quinlan,  to get things back to normal.  Miss Lemon, their French teacher is also called in to help and she is shocked with all the drama.

I really like the way Erika writes and even though I am in primary school, this was a perfect read for me.  I kept turning the pages and tried to read past my bedtime!  I have already started the next book, The Broken Spell and cannot wait for the third one, The Watching Wood, due out this September. I will recommend this book to all my friends and would give it 5 out of 5 !!!

Mia’s Interview with Erika McGann

 

1. How long did it take for you to write The Demon Notebook?

 

“It took me about eight or nine months, which is quiet a long time, but it was my first go at writing and I was kind of learning as I went.  It was a little bit slow and a little bit clunky and it took me kind of a while to work things out.”

 

2. Was it fun to create Mrs. Quinlan?

 

” Yes, it was. I love Mrs. Quinlan. I think she is one of my favourites. I love her. I always describe her as that neighbour in your street that if your ball went over into their back garden, you don’t go and get it. You know that kind of neighbour that you are kind of scared of? I loved creating her. You can kind of say whatever you want as her aswell, she’s so rude to the girls, you don’t have to be careful, you don’t have to be polite, so I love her!”

 

3. How did you come up with the Non-Una character?

 

“The girls are all kind of based on my friends, that I was in secondary school with, which is fun because they are trying to pick themselves out of the book now! I love the fact that when Una changes, she changes so much, she becomes really polite and she essentially became like me, when I was in school, all hand up, collected the books for the teacher and I loved that thing where they knew something was wrong as she was way too nice, way too polite.”

 

4. Is there going to be a third book about Grace and her friends?

 

“Yes there is, and it’s out in September. I’m working on the edits right now.  It is called “The Watching Wood”. I’m loving it at the moment and hoping it goes down really, really well.  It’s really exciting and I can’t wait for that one.”

 

5. Did you ever use a Ooija Board?

 

“Yes I did. I always wondered if it was that little button that was too far? When I was doing sessions I was kind of nervous, that it was the one thing that was going to get me in trouble, but to be honest, I think it is a different time now, it’s not taken so seriously.  I actually own one of the proper ones, that I got in America, the ones that you see on TV, as you just can’t get them here.

I was never afraid of it. I just wanted to believe in it, I wanted to believe in ghosts and spirits. It was more fun than anything. Everybody has a story of a friend, of a friend, not someone close to them though. But I can understand some people being nervous of them.”

 

6. Why did you choose to write children’s books?

 

“I think because I’m not grown up enough to write adult books, I think there’s too much of a kid inside me and there is real freedom in writing kids books. There’s no restrictions or anything, you can kind of do what you want.”

 

7. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

 

“When I was really young, I wanted to be an author. I used to read and write stories a lot. But then when I got a little bit older I wanted to be a vet, but that is hard to get into in Ireland so I found a course in England called animal behaviour and welfare and I decided I wanted to be David Attenborough! I went to college and did that degree.”

 

8. Have you always been interested in Witchcraft and the occult?

 

“Yes, I think that’s what drove the book really. It came from me and my friends in school. we loved the idea of witchcraft, anything supernatural, ghosts and all that kind of thing.”

 

9. What were your favourite children’s books or authors as a child?

 

“I think probably my favourite children’s author would be Roald Dahl. I think it always will be Roald Dahl ! I loved him when I was young. The BFG was my favourite, but when I went back to read them, it’s not my favourite now at all. I really like Matilda.  There weren’t a lot of books like his, he was kind of nasty and grotesque and still now there’s nothing quite like him. I loved the Narnia books aswell and I loved The Worst Witch.”

 

10. Did you use the library or buy books when you were young?

 

“The library. It was all about the library. When I was pre-teen, me and my friend used to make a trip to the library every two weeks together. The library was a big thing when I was young. It was our access to books.”

 

11. Tell us three things that most people don’t know about you.

 

” I’m actually afraid of balloons. I worked briefly in a party shop and we used to do balloon arrangements and when you are working on them, some of them pop and it just made me so tense!

I did a volunteer placement in the Bahamas and I got to work with sharks, even swimming with them!

I read a lot of YA books. Grown up, mature books, I can’t handle at all. When I’m in a book shop, I ignore the adult section entirely. ”

 

12. What is your favourite dessert?

 

“Anything with chocolate! I am a chocolate fiend! I think, chocolate fudge cake…..”

 

13. What was your favourite childhood holiday?

 

“We went to France a lot, which I loved, as we have relatives over there.  My Mom speaks very good french and she double, double checked all the french I wrote in the book. But if I was to choose a great, really mad holiday, we used to go down to Trabolgan in Co. Cork and remember that being the awesome, awesome holiday !! We were set free and had so much fun ….”

 

14. What famous person, alive or dead, would you give your last Rolo to?

 

 

 

“I would give it to Jane Austen because, despite Mansfield Park, I absolutely adore her. I re-read her books constantly and  for the time, she was so advanced, talking about women, and she was so witty. I think she would be really, really fun.”

 

 

Thanks so much to Erika for agreeing to meet us and allowing Mia to ask her all those questions!  We cannot wait for the new book in September………

The Demon Notebook and the Broken Spell are published by The O’Brien Press and are available in all good bookshops or in e-book format.

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City of Fate by Nicola Pierce

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I know we have already featured a guest review for this title but as we here at Inkies have been dying to get our hands on it we just had to do our own review. As the resident Historical Fiction ahem** “expert” (Lisa D) I thought I would be the best choice to read and review the eagerly awaited follow up to Nicola’s bestselling Spirit of The Titanic. (In other words I wrestled the book away from the other two).

With this book Nicola has chosen another iconic historical setting; the Battle of Stalingrad 1942-1943. The action revolves around two young boys; fourteen year old Yuri and Peter who is only five. They are thrown together after the bombing leaves the city in ruins and their homes destroyed. We also meet a group of school friends who have been recruited into the war effort Anton, Vlad and Leo who are teenagers barely older than Yuri. Nicola’s storytelling is incredibly powerful and she weaves her exhaustive research into the narrative seamlessly. When she tells us that the young recruits weren’t even given guns and that the Germans shot old women and children it is all too believable. This book is heartbreaking and yet it reminds us constantly of the humanity of both sides. The German soldier haunted by singing children, the old ladies who give food to anyone they meet who needs it and the haunting music which is a constant motif. This was a bleak historical episode but Nicola gives it faces and names and brings the history books to life. This is an ideal read for fans of The Book Thief and should be required reading for Junior Certificate Students. Like The Book Thief it will have broad appeal and I can see it being read avidly by readers from age ten to adults.

Christmas Gifts Part 3 for readers aged 8-12

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One of the best books I read this year was The Jade Boy by Cate Cain. I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone under 11, as it is at times frightening and gruesome but it was one of the most exciting historical novels I have read in years. Set in the time of the restoration just before the Great Fire of London it features Jem a mistreated servant boy and his two friends a selectively mute black boy called Tolly and Ann a young witch, with magic mystery and adventure this is a gothic and thrilling read.

Another great historical novel with a ghostly twist was Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll. You can read my review here https://inkandpaperhearts.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/frost-hollow-hall-by-emma-carroll/

Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald is another debut with historical elements which I adored. I reviewed on my other blog http://lisareadsbooks.blogspot.ie/2013/03/sarahmoore-fitzgerald-is-brave-new.html

The Keeper by Darragh Martin is new fantasy, perfect for fans of Percy Jackson or Arthur Quinn and will I hope be the first in an exciting new series. Featuring journeys on the DART, Celtic myths and mysterious books this is a thrilling read for 10 and upwards.

The Powers by Kevin Stephens illustrated by Sheena Dempsey is a a fun filled read for readers aged 8 plus featuring a family of super heroes who don’t always get things right. Check them out on you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHi3vdFWRew

The Ark of Dun Ruah Protectors of The Flame by Maria Burke is the second book in the Dun Ruah series continuing the story of Simon and Kerry here is my review of the first in the series http://lisareadsbooks.blogspot.ie/2013/05/the-ark-of-dun-ruah-by-maria-burke.html this series will appeal to fantasy fans aged 10 and upwards.

A Rosette for Maeve? and Colm’s Lambs by Anna McQuinn are the first of a planned series of books for younger readers, perfect for reading aloud or for beginners reading alone. Published by O’Brien Press in association with The Farmer’s Journal they feature farming life , animals and nature. Age 6 plus.

Rebecca Rocks by Anna Carey is the third instalment in the fun and award winning series featuring contemporary teens as they attempt to become rock mega stars. A great read perfect for fans of Saran Webb. Ages 11 and upwards.

Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman illustrated by Chris Riddell  A rollicking, fun and inventive read featuring Gaiman’s trademark wit and silliness and Riddell’s  illustrations not only add to the story but also contain hidden clues. This will be loved by young readers aged 8 or 9 but would make an ideal bedtime story for kids from 5 upwards.

The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable although this was actually published last year it deserves a mention here because this is a wonderfully exciting book which hasn’t had the attention it deserves. It has a very girly cover which some love and others really hate, this is a magical and at times dark tale  dealing with loneliness and friendship. A thrilling historical fantasy and it has wolves.  Here is Mara’s review from earlier in the year. https://inkandpaperhearts.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-wolf-princess-by-cathryn-constable/

Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper by Alan Early is the dramatic conclusion to the Father of Lies chronicles which have been a massive hit with 9 to 13 year olds featuring an Irish setting and Norse mythology this is a sure fire hit with fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.

Ask Amy Green; Wedding Belles by Sarah Webb  I know I mentioned it in my first Christmas round up but in case you missed it I cannot recommend this series highly enough. These books are laugh out loud funny and sadly this is the last one but make a young person you know chuckle through Christmas by buying them this book. Ideal for ages 11 and up.

Darcy Burdock By Laura Dockrill is another very funny book ideal for readers aged 8 and up featuring a wonderful heroine who likes to notice everything around and write about it. The book also featues Laura’s fantastic illustrations. For anyone who enjoys the Wimpy Kid books this is a must.

 

Top Books for Teens this Christmas or Great Books for Christmas Part 2

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With Hunger Games fever still running high there is no sign of interest in dystopian fiction slowing down. If you have a Hunger Games fan in the house they may also love Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant.

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This photo features just some of the amazing books that have been published for teen readers this year. Some of our highlights include;

More Than This by Patrick Ness. 

The captivating, dramatic and thrilling new book from the award winning author is a must read.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

This a simple but sensitive story about two very different boys with the same name. John Green has been the man of the hour this year in teen fiction but I feel certain that 2014 will be David Levithan’s year.

Forgive me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

A look at some dark issues including mental illness and suicide which is nonetheless hopeful.

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

A coming of age story about a musical prodigy.

 

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

Three intertwining stories full of romance and Christmas spirit.

Missing Ellen by Natasha Mac a’Bháird

A stunning debut from an Irish author check out Lisa C’s review from earlier in the year https://inkandpaperhearts.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/missing-ellen-by-natasha-mac-a-bhaird/

Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow

A stunning historical fantasy set in the North American wilderness, epic.

Rose under Fire Elizabeth Wein

Follow up to the stunning Code Name Verity, this is the story of a young American pilot in WW2

Witchfall by Victoria Lamb

The second instalment of a magical trilogy about a young witch at the Tudor Court.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

This debut is a stunning ghostly fantasy

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

A new book from Cooper is always reason to celebrate and this is  a thought provoking and courageous historical tale.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

The master of fantasy takes on YA fiction with this thrilling steampunk tale, perfect for fans of Harry Potter and Skullduggery Pleasant.

Lockwood & Co The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

The first in new series about a ghost hunting agency sure to delight fans of Joseph Delaney and Darren Shan

Heart Shaped by Siobhan Parkinson

Home grown and brilliant

check out the inkies review https://inkandpaperhearts.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/park-yoself-here-and-read-these-books/

Inkies School Event

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Today one of the Inkies (Lisa D) joined forces with Margaret of http://bleachhouselibrary.blogspot.ie/ to promote reading and give away some books, bookmarks and posters to some lovely Primary School Children at Collon National School.

Here are Miss Stafford’s 3rd Class and Mr Garvey’s 4th Class with some of the books we have asked them to review. We talked about writing, ideas, the publishing process, how books get published and the purpose of reviews. It was lovely to meet some engaging children many of whom are already great readers. We look forward to receiving their reviews. Thanks so much to Margaret for putting so much work into setting up this event, to the children and teachers for letting us come in to talk to them and to Little Island and O’Brien Publishers for sending out some great goodies to give away.

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Great Books for Christmas Part One

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I want to start by recommending some books are that are really beautiful for younger readers and also some fabulous and gorgeous classics that have been re-issued for older readers.

Firstly for the younger ones

Dot . by Randi Zuckerberg illustrated by Joe Berger published by Corgi.

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This is a lovely picture book to remind kids that there is more to life than technology and that we also need to time to play. Age 3 upwards

Journey by Aaron Becker published by Walker Books

Journey explores this idea of recharging our batteries and using our imaginations in greater depth, it is a wordless book full of enchanting images. Check out the the video (see link below) for a small taste, Becker is a stunning visual artist and Journey will transport book lovers young and old. Age 4 and upwards.

http://vimeo.com/71778929

Oscar Wilde Stories for Children illustrated by Charles Robinson published by O’Brien Press

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Three classic Oscar Wilde fairytales The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose and The Selfish Giant. This is a stunning reproduction of the original illustrations by Charles Robinson first published in 1913. A perfect Christmas Present for young readers and a wonderful addition to any collection. Ages 5 and upwards.

Lizzy Bennet’s Diary by Marcia Williams published by Walker Books

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Inspired by Pride and Prejudice and released to coinincide with this year’s 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s fabulous and timeless classic, this is a gorgeous little gift idea perfect for Janeites but also a wonderful introduction for younger readers. With fold out letters, drawings, pressed flowers and ribbons this will transport readers back to the era of Darcy and Elizabeth. Perfect for ages 8 to adult.

Amy Green Wedding Belles published by Walker Books

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This is not a picture book but I want to mention it here because not only is it gorgeous and an ideal gift for girls it is sadly the final book in the Amy Green series. Don’t despair however as author Sarah Webb is working furiously away on a brand new series for young readers. In the meantime though there are six books in the Amy Green series and in this one Amy’s mum Sylvie and stepdad Dave finally tie the knot but Amy’s own love life is not looking quite so rosy. Laugh out loud funny this is a fab series for ages 8 and upwards.

Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, Emily’s Quest by Lucy Maud Montgomery published by Virago

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Photo courtesy of http://bookwitch.wordpress.com/

This is a fantastic series from the author of Anne of Green Gables which have been difficult to track down in recent years; I do have some shoddy paperback copies but these gorgeous re-issued editions will, I hope tempt some readers who have yet to discover the series and older readers like me who just want to own them. I do however have the excuse that I can give them to my daughter Emily as they will make an ideal gift for girls aged 10 and upwards.

Not Gone Away, We Swear

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We know we have been AWOL recently but we promise that is not a permanent state of affairs. We have all been very lucky to have been working like mad at our day jobs; which if you weren’t aware include teaching (Mara), bookselling (Mara, Lisa and Lisa) and librarianing (Lisa) (is that a word? ah yea sure course it is!) as well as our other major passion which is writing; hence the quote above. We promise to resume normal service with a post on some great gift ideas including some fab picture books very very soon.

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