Monthly Archives: July 2017

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Maloy – Blog Tour 

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy is a tightly paced thriller from Penguin Viking which is out now

Set on a Christmas cruise in Central America it follows three families and their search for their missing children after a day trip goes very awry. 

At the start, the book reads as a domestic drama, with two of the families being long term friends that clearly have more than their holiday packaging as baggage. 

Clearly some inspiration has been taken from real cases, and where to place the blame when something like this happens, is explored. 

We are not limited to the points of view of a few characters but instead hear from most of them over the course of the story, including the children and a few added extra characters who I thought perhaps muddied the waters slightly and complicated an already intricate plot. I think my usual Young Adult reading material means I get much more involved in a first person or limited third person narrative and is purely a personal preference. I enjoyed hearing from the children the most and have to admit that my lack of empathy with the parents did perhaps distance me from them. 

This isn’t a classic light summer read and I can’t promise that you won’t become alarmed. I know there were a few incidences where I was more panicked than the characters. 

Definitely worth your time and I can see this being filmed or made into a tense radio play. 

Thanks to Josie at Penguin for the review copy. Opinions as ever are all mine. 

Do check out what other bloggers thought at the other stops on the tour. 

More Than One Way to Be a Girl by Dyan Sheldon – character and author interview


“Face it, Zizi. You’d be lost without your make-up and your girly clothes.” 

“And you think ‘feminine’ is a dirty word. You’re the one who’s never going to change, Loretta.”

“You want to bet?”

When Loretta and her best friend Zizi make a life-changing bet, one thing’a for sure: the summer is about to be turned upside down. 

Character Interviews 


Before you two were friends how would you have defined feminism?


Loretta: I would have defined it like this: Feminism is self-defense.


ZiZi: You see what I mean about Loretta, right? Everything gets exaggerated! How I would’ve defined it is: Wannabe guys with a limited sense of humour and not a lot of patience.


Describe your style.


Loretta: Immune to the pressures of a fashion industry that wants you to buy something new every week so it can make more money. And immune to the pressures of a society that thinks it has the right to tell you how to dress. Utilitarian and comfortable, but with colourful socks.


ZiZi: Fashionable and feminine, but (now) with practical shoes. When I look in the mirror I want to smile.


What do you admire most about the other?


Loretta: ZiZi’s unique. She may look like Miss Congeniality, but she’s opinionated, stubborn and for definite has a mind of her own. And she makes me laugh.


ZiZi: With Loretta, what you see is pretty much what you get. And what you get’s a real friend. Plus she has a great sense of humour, and if you get a flat tyre on a lonely road, she’s the girl you want next to you.


What do you think would be the hardest part of being a boy?


Loretta: In some ways, there are as many restrictions on guys as there are on girls – they’re just different restrictions. All that competition and pressure to Be a Man. And, as ZiZi would say, you can’t even go shopping or put on your favourite dress and those outrageous earrings to cheer yourself up.  


ZiZi: Having to wear boring clothes. Plus having to be tough and strong when really all you want to do is going under the duvet and cry.

Author Interview 

Are you more like Loretta or ZiZi? In what ways?


I’m probably more like Loretta. I often have the impression when a contentious topic comes up and I clear my throat that my friends are all wishing I wouldn’t say anything.


Describe your writing style.


That’s a question I’ve never been asked before. But, judging from editor and copy-editor comments I’ve had over the years, I’d say it’s idiosyncratic.


How many ways of being a girl do you have?


I don’t do the stilettos or the makeup, but otherwise I think I cover the range. I own both a food processor and a drill.

What I thought? 

This was such a fun read and I loved the characters of Loretta and Zizi and especially their friendship.

I found this a really accessible way to look at gender and feminist issues through the set up of a bet. 

More Than One Way to Be a Girl takes a slightly lighter hearted view of similar themes to that in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series and is perfect for the 13+ age group it’s aimed at. Relationships with boys feature, and believe me I shared Loretta’s annoyance when her relationship with her colleagues changed. 

MTOWTBAG is out now. 

I also had fun recreating the cover for #bookstagram, and below is a picture of me after checking my tyre pressures. Let’s just hope I never manage to put oil in the brake fluid ever again?! *disclaimer – this happened a long time ago. 

Huge thanks to Dyan for answering the questions and channelling Loretta and Zizi again and to Kirsten Cozens at Walker Books for the review copy. Opinions on the book are as ever are entirely mine. 

Spellbound – Guide to the Online Book Community 

Just like writing, reading can feel like a very solitary experience. If you are anything like me, when you get to the end of a book, you probably have all sorts of thoughts and feelings that you want to discuss with someone. Short of persuading all of your friends to read the book where do you go? 
Online of course

Today I am Talbot Health School in Bournemouth talking at their Spellbound Literature Convention about the online book community. 

Book Blogging – WordPress, Blogger

Book Vlogging – YouTube

Bookish Images – Instagram using the #bookstagram 

Book Reviews – Goodreads and Litsy

Chats and Groups – Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads 
A few examples of teen bloggers 

I curated a small list of YA bloggers who are teens that you can follow on twitter.

The Mile Long Bookshelf aka Amber Kirk-Ford is a book blogger and vlogger who has written for the Guardian and Penguin Books Blog.
Queen of Contemporary/@LucyTheReader AKA Lucy Powrie is also a book blogger and vlogger who set up the hugely successful twitter chat using the hashtag #ukyachat
How to be a good blogger by Jenny in Neverland. This popped up on my twitter timeline this morning and I had to share because it just says what I wanted to say.
How to review 
Goodreads Reviews
Uses a 5 star rating system

1 star – didn’t like it 

2 stars – it was ok

3 stars – liked it

4 stars – really liked it 

5 stars – it was amazing 
But. Everyone uses it differently and you can create your own rating system on your blog. Or you don’t have to rate at all. I use half stars and I generally round down not up.

Find your own style
Activity – post it note review 

Activity – Instagram pictures 

Activity – Features and Challenges 

Side note about safety

Note most online forums require you to be 13 to use. 

Remember that anything you say online can always be found. 

Be cautious – occasionally people aren’t who they say they are. If you ever arrange to meet with someone who you have met online don’t go alone and tell someone. 
Side note about your TBR and budget

Joining the online book community will exponentially increase the size of your TBR piles and see you wanting to spend more money than you have. Join a library. Budget. Ask for Bookish goodies for gifts. 
If you do prefer to meet up with people in real life make sure to follow your favourite bookshops and check out events they might host. Waterstones will be hosting a whole range of YA author events over the summer. 
Every summer there is now a Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) as part of London Film and Comic Con (LFCC). This year it runs from Friday 28th – Sunday 30th July and there will be around 90 authors in attendance. There are author panels, signings, workshops, stands, cosplay and just generally hanging around with fellow book worms. 
Activity – Q&A e.g. Picking a platform, setting up a blog, interacting with authors and others, ARCs etc. 

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