I’m Back!

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In proper Inkies fashion, I decided to return to this blog as my New Year’s resolution – in February. Well, better late than never, said no publisher ever, which is why I’m blogging and not yet published.

Well, it’s been nearly two years! How did that happen? How did I get so rubbish at getting stuff done? The truth is, I didn’t. None of us did. Life got in the way and there was a tonne of other stuff to that needed doing. It was one of those years where one has to grab the mane of that mad pony (which was my life) and cling on until it stopped, lest you be trampled underfoot. The shaggy cur got me to the point where I am now secure in a career that I enjoy, but in such a whirlwind that it left next to no time for writing, blogging or even (gasp) reading.

Said mad pony also brought me to the foot of the Andes and made me climb to Machu Picchu (in fairness to him, it is not a pony-friendly path – plenty of goats though) as well as on a number of other wild adventures (that include being stranded on an island and in a desert, as well as riding Aragorn’s horse! Please don’t be jealous, mad pony. Don’t hurt me.) While I am  extremely glad that I held on, it’s an incredible relief to finally set my feet down and remember my first and sadly neglected love; books.

So here we are.

 

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   It can taste your fear.

   So where was I? Yes! Books. The new career thing is great, because I’m working with kids of the age I want to write for. We read the same books. Hell, I think I even share a reading age with some of them. I use big words to make it at least seem as though I’m a couple of steps ahead, which, being almost seventeen years their senior, makes it kind of upsetting when they correct my pronunciation on words that I’ve never heard aloud because I picked them up in books.

Brats.

   I love my brats though. Duty of care aside, it’s hard not to gather a sense of fondness for people you share a space with for six hours a day over one hundred and eighty-three days. Working with them is giving me plenty of excuses to return to my favourite books, all of which belong to the middle grade category, which means I can share my favourites with me class, and they can share their favourites with me.

   But, the gods of learning forgive me, there is an awful lot of David Walliams this year. I mean, an awful lot.

   And maybe my teachers and family felt the same way when I became obsessed with Harry Potter (and never grew out of it) because when finished the books, I picked up the Philosopher’s Stone, and read them all, again and again and again. I wanted to wipe my memory each time, and experience that first reading each time. It took me a while, and the help of one incredible librarian (who, now that I think about it, made me read Harry Potter in the first place) to challenge my bereft reader’s soul and put me in the direction of Ursula le Guin, Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett and (what were you thinking? I was  twelve!) Bram Stoker.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy David Walliams. I can’t not love him for what he’s done for children’s reading. The problem, which I think is exacerbated by the Irish media (seriously Ryan Tubridy?) is that there is so much out there that kids aren’t aware of, unless they physically walk into a bookshop and talk to a bookseller. Luckily, the children’s bookselling world has risen to the task of diluting the David Walliams frenzy with, you know, other really excellent MG books, that are just as good, or indeed better. That’s a band wagon I want on. It’s not being pulled by ponies so I feel rather safe in declaring myself returned to the world of Children’s books, with an intention to review and promote middle grade across all genres, but especially in fantasy, because that’s where my heart is.

   In my absence, a hoard of incredible authors have emerged, and familiar favourites are setting the bar so incredibly high for this age group. I no longer feel guilt about steeping myself in this sector – among all the beautiful books – I can’t breathe!anigif_sub-buzz-19880-1466793045-16

Despite being really creepy – I know how Mouldy Voldy feels right now.

Ok, so I’ve bored everybody enough with my excuses – I’m the best excuse-maker ever though, right? I mean, Machu Picchu! Machu-freaking-Pich …

Ok. Books.

I’m gathering some reading momentum, and with the help of the lovely Lisas, I’ve come across some absolute gems, and these will be the subjects of the next several posts. So here is my overview of what I will be reviewing in the next couple of weeks.

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And I know these are all big players – but with very good reason. I will be very open to suggestions, recommendations (and post 😉 from now on, and have every intention of sourcing out some hidden gems as I trawl the bookstores –  or more likely, the booksellers brains.

Thank you for listening to my excuses. Be kind in you responses, Mad Pony is watching.
Mara xxx

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Missing Ellen by Natasha Mac a’ Bhaird

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Missing Ellen was such a great read. My only complaint is that it was actually too short! I want more! This book deals with a girl named Maggie who writes letters to her best friend, Ellen while she attends school without her. Outside of the letters, Maggie provides a blow-by-blow account of events leading up to… no, sorry, I can’t tell you. It’ll ruin the book!

The character of Ellen is so well executed, it feels like I know her in real life. I think that everyone has a friend like Ellen – someone who is mad and impulsive about all the right things in life but sadly, all the wrong things too. Whether you are more similar to Maggie, who wants to please Ellen so badly and be cool, or whether you are like Ellen, a girl who just wants to have fun, this book will speak volumes to you about friendships between girls and how delicate they really are. I look forward to the next book from this author, just please make it longer next time!

Missing Ellen will be available in October 2013 from O’Brien Press and is suitable for girls aged twelve upwards.

Lisa C

New Reviews coming soon

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I am really looking forward to spending August catching up on some of the great kids books which I haven’t had time to read yet this year. My summer reading list looks like this 

 

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Titles included here 

Missing Ellen by Natasha Mac a’ Bhaird

The Hidden Gift by Ian Somers

Friday Brown by  Vikki Wakefield

New England Rocks by Christina Courtenay

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

The Double Life of Cory Parry by Angela McAllister

The Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Secrets and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

If you find Me by Emily Murdoch

Jack Hunter Secret of the King by Martin King

Cold Water and Stone by Pat Nolan

I may have a fight on my hands with Mara and Lisa C for some of these I think. let us know what you’re reading this summer.