Monthly Archives: June 2018

#TheAwakened by Julian Cheek – Blog Tour Book Extract

Synopsis

My name is Sam. I am nothing special but apparently if I don’t wake up, both this world and that other one will be destroyed. Nice One! All I wanted was to disappear into my own world and be left alone. But, No! Even THAT was taken away from me.

Well just wait. You want me to fight? I’ll show you “fight.”

You took the most important thing in my life away from me, and now I am coming for you.

Hidden away in your mountain stronghold, even the rocks around you will not stop me getting to you.

You started this war.

I am going to finish it!

Seventeen year old Sam just wants to be left alone!

He has enough to cope with in his invisible, suburban, existence without having some fantastic and, frankly, unasked-for, alternate reality drop into his life asserting that he has powers beyond his wildest dreams. And that unless he does something, both his world, and that of Muanga-Atua, will come to a horrible end.

A terrifying episode one blustery night may be enough to start to erode the impregnable shell he thought he had built up around himself. A shell, not to keep others out, but to keep the rage in. Could he afford, as was the norm now, just to do nothing?

About the Author

Living  in  Petersfield,  Hampshire,  Julian  Cheek  has  worked  for  over  thirty  years  as  an  architect          working  on  several  major  projects  including  Mercedes  World,  a  competition  for  Battersea  Power  Station,  NikeTown  and  most  recently  a  high  rise,  Versace  branded  residential  building  in  London.  When  not  designing  he  is  embracing  his  other  creative  interests,  writing.  His  first  book,  You  should  not  wake  a  hibernating  Puff-Adder  (2011)  was  a  series  of  short  stories  inspired  by  his  childhood  growing  up  in  South  Africa.

Website: http://puffadder.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/juliancheek

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/public/Julian-Cheek

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julian_cheek/?hl=en

Extract

After a short while, he pushed past the last of the branches and came across the source of the noise. A pond lay in front of him, surrounded by moss-covered, shiny stones and pebbles, haphazardly strewn around and disappearing into the water. A small waterfall bounced over the rocks above him, landing into the pond in front, casting ripples into the mirror of the water, reflecting its surroundings. He felt the soft spray on his face and hands as it glistened in the air around him, slowly painting him in a sheen to match the surrounding area. He knelt down, reaching his hands out into the water, sensing its coldness as his fingers dipped into the liquid. And cupping his hands, he drew a few eager mouthfuls into his mouth. The silence of the surroundings now eased by the subtle sounds of the falling water and droplets from the surrounding fronds falling into the water’s edge.

As he was drinking, he sensed, rather than heard, a subtle disturbance in his immediate environment. For some reason he felt the hairs on the back of his neck start to lift and a feeling of danger began to weave itself into his mind. There were no apparent changes to the noises around him, no shadows casting strange shapes into his field of view, but something was not right. Something was here, he was sure of it. And that “something” was not wanting to announce itself! He slowly lifted his gaze up from the water’s edge, scanning the surroundings, searching for a clue to his sense of danger, but nothing was there. The branches of the trees still bent down to touch the water’s edge, the moss and ferns lay quiet opposite him, the water still bubbled down the rock face above him, landing into the water. There was nothing obvious about his surroundings that advertised danger. I must be imagining things, Sam thought. The quietness is starting to get to me. His gaze fell back to the reflections on the water, seeing the tree line, the pebbles just below the surface. But something didn’t gel, and his brain made his eyes focus on the surface. Focus on the surface of the water just in front of him. Focus on the reflections on the water just in front of him. And looking back, coming into view, now that his brain, like a radar, had picked up its target, was the shape of an animal. Small, furry, sleek bodied, a long sweeping tail brushing the grasses, talons gripping the rock face. Large eyes, looking straight down at him.

Straight down at me!… With a shock, Sam sprang back defensively as he realised that this creature had crept up behind him and was even now above him on the rock face of the mini waterfall, intent on getting closer without him knowing.

“Aaaaarrggghhhh!!!”

His world exploded as a scream powered out of his mouth, and instinctively he jumped up, grasping a rock in his hands, and throwing it in the direction of where he thought the animal was, all the while screaming out in shock, hoping to scare this “thing” as far away as possible. Arms flailing and legs kicking out instinctively, Sam shouted and cursed in pure, adrenaline-induced terror.

Nothing!

No noise, no scrabbling, no whimpering. Nothing. Whatever it was, Sam thought, had been scared away by his antics and probably long since disappeared down the hole it had scraped itself out of in the first place. His breathing calmed down a notch and he allowed himself a brief grin, thinking he had scared off whatever terror that “thing” was. He cracked out the tension from his shoulders, which had been building up whilst at the pool, and again turned towards the water, as if to seek some release there.

On the opposite side of the pond, sitting calmly and serenely on its haunches, and not more than two metres from him, the “creature from hell” gazed across as if, for all the world, this screaming banshee, that had been Sam, was a common occurrence here. Its eyes were intelligently gauging Sam’s next movements. A thin tongue snaked out, licking its ears, and those big eyes fixed Sam with steely gaze… and then it smiled!

By smiling, its mouth opened, and the most lethal looking row of sharpened, death-dealing fangs shone out from the dark pit of its mouth………

If that’s what your appetite do pick up a copy and check out the other stops on the blog tour

Scan Number 2 – #IVF Update

I’ve been taking the Merional since Sunday and today (Wednesday) I had my second scan to see how things were going along.

First the good news. The juicy follicle on the right that was around 10mm at Friday’s scan was around 16.5mm (needs to aim for 21mm) and one of the tiny ones on the right is up to 10mm. Lining was thickening up but I blanked on by how much.

Now the not so good news. No sign of any more. Nothing on the left. Had bloods taken again

(oops I guess I didn’t press down hard enough)

The nurse was honest in saying she didn’t know what the consultant’s advice would be because, although you only need one egg to make a baby, the more eggs the more chances. Plus there’s no guarantee that each follicle contains an egg.

They got back to me to say that the recommendation was to reduce the Busceralin from 0.5 to 0.2 – I guess to see if we can wake the ovaries up a bit or at least to see if that 10mm joins in a bit more positively. I’m already of the full whack of the Merional. Back for another scan Friday afternoon to review.

It’s odd because since around 11.30 Thursday I’ve been feeling quick stabby pains down where my ovaries are and have been feeling a bit sicky and that’s continued today. I was hoping that that meant good things were happening. It’s odd how you can be convinced your body is doing stuff it might not be. I almost had myself convinced I was pregnant last summer but that was a no too.

So it’s not completely a no

Yes I had a blub

Yes I’m likely to have more blubs

But I’m trying to stay positive and remind myself that…

Will review again on Friday. There’s still potential steps that can be taken so trying to take things just one day at a time.

Thanks for reading

Now off work for the rest of this week and next and am wearing my pineapple on my wrist.

Double Felix by Sally Harris – Blog Tour Book Review

Today’s Middle Grade book title is published by WackyBee Books and is a story that taps into the current push to gain a greater understanding of mental health, particularly in boys.

Synopsis

He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules. Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns his world upside down. She’s grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?

Author

Sally Harris grew up in rural Australia and after graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Children’s Literature, Sally has been busy writing and working as a primary teacher in both Australia and the UK. Her first book Diary of a Penguin-Napper, sold over 10,000 copies and her second book Ruby Marvellous, has inspired children all over the world to try their hand at cooking exploding finger buns! Sally loves animals, including penguins, but as she can’t have one of those as a pet, she has found that a dog is definitely the next best thing.

Illustrator

Maria Serrano was born in Murcia, Spain where she still lives and works. After completing her BA in Arts at Complutense University in Madrid, she went on to illustrate children’s books for several Spanish publishers, all of which are still available to buy at bookshops in Spain. In the UK she has worked with Oxford University Press, Pearson Education and Templar books amongst others. She is represented by the Plum Pudding agency.

What I Thought

We join Felix’s story when he is already reliant on rules and patterns and he is in the midst of those being challenged. It has got to a stage where it is affecting his daily life, his ability to deal with change and to engage with other children.

As well as being introduced to the new girl at school Charlie, Felix’s latest episode means that he is sent to see the school counsellor who starts to work with him on addressing his anxieties.

I loved how the story focused on the introduction of these new characters into Felix’s life and how they both help Felix, and those around him to see things differently. Felix’s difficulties are spoken about in every day language that children would understand and I love the analogy the counsellor comes up with of ‘Basil the Bully’. I think this would be a great book for any child experiencing anxiety to read to maybe start off a discussion with parents or school staff. Or indeed it would make a great classroom read to explore with children how we can support others who see the world differently.

Both Felix and Charlie are fun characters and I loved following their growing friendship. They felt very authentic to their age.

Author Sally very cleverly introduces common anxiety provoking incidents into Felix’s life – some that are everyday (playing with other children at break times) and others that are often out of anyone’s control (substitute teachers who don’t know you, medical problems affecting those we love). And these scenarios help him begin to see how to deal with the uncertainty that life throws at us.

The illustrations by Maria really bring the story and Felix’s thoughts to life and I particularly loved the Rool Boy comic which was an adorable way for Charlie to share her understanding with Felix.

The story comes across as very realistic with no quick fix, no perfect ending but a hopeful journey. Check out the structure of the contents page which also forms part of the story.

It is worth noting that the book is set in Australia and schools in the UK are set up differently. In fact children and adolescent mental health services are generally under too much demand and there is pressure for schools to focus on academic achievement. This means that when children with mental health or social learning challenges (such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, ADHD etc) are achieving academically despite them having social and behavioural challenges they are not readily able to access additional support.

As an Occupational Therapist I see a huge potential role for OTs to be employed within schools addressing this more generally. Charlie even introduces Felix to an occupation that she thinks will help his anxiety. I sense a future fabulous OT in that character. One of my OT friends is exploring a PhD on this topic and I’ll definitely share this book with her, and also with friends who might have children experiencing similar challenges.

Today is the start of the blog tour. Do check out the other stops for reviews and author content.

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