YA Shot

All posts tagged YA Shot

YA Shot 2016 – why you NEED to go!

Published October 16, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Hi everyone, I’m here today to talk about a fantastic young adult literature festival in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstones Uxbridge that happens over just one day in Uxbridge (end of Metropolitan and Piccadilly Line just outside of London). Do you love young adult fiction? Are you free next Saturday 22nd October? Then you should definitely check out the YA Shot webpage HERE and see what delights they’re offering. I was lucky enough to attend YA Shot last year with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and we hosted a workshop called “Introduction To Blogging.” We were terribly nervous, especially as I’m not big on public speaking but we both ended up having a whale of a time and are so glad we did it.

For now, here are ten reasons why you should give YA Shot a try! (author links take you direct to the YA Shot webpage):

1.) It’s the brainchild of super-duper author and all round lovely person Alexia Casale whose novels The Bone Dragon and House of Windows you simply have to check out for their spellbinding content and beautiful, lyrical prose.

2.) Panel events? YA Shot has them in abundance! For example, Terms of Endearment: feminism and the portrayal of romance in YA – Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Rachel McIntyre, Holly Smale chaired by Holly Bourne sounds completely unmissable.

3.) Tough topics: To Have and Have Not: exploring poverty, privilege and class through YA – Michael Byrne, Patrice Lawrence, Steve Tasane, chaired by Polly Ho Yen, a talk which I’m sure will explore gritty issues and spark a great debate both during and afterwards.

4.) Feeling a bit emotional? The YA Shot team have got it covered with: The Hurt Locker: love, loss and coping – Sarah Alexander, Jenny Downham chaired by Clare Furniss.

5.) For the historical fiction lovers out there (like myself!) this looks incredibly tempting: Out of the Past: the age of the Tudors & Stuarts in YA with Jonathan WeilJane Hardstaff, Ally Sherrick, chaired by Andrew Prentice.

6.) Love the idea of “in conversation” author events? How about: It’s a Wonderful Life: exploring bullying and loss through magical realism with Mike Revell and Nikki Sheehan?

7.) Fancy being a writer yourself? How about an exclusive, small workshop (first come, first served) with a best-selling author where they can teach you all the tricks of the trade?: History is horrible (but great for writing fiction!) with Rhian Ivory.

8.) Do you have a favourite blogger/vlogger? Or maybe you’re just starting out? Come along to: The blogging system: all the things they don’t tell you with Vivienne Dacosta (Serendipity Reviews) and Laura Heath (SisterSpooky), also Blogging/Vlogging: the technical low-down with Stevie Finegan(SableCaught) and Virginie (Chouettblog).

9.) Don’t miss: Managing your reading and choosing what to review with Cora(TeaPartyPrincess) and Luna (Luna’s Little Library). (Hmm…maybe I need to go to this).

10.) There will be book signing sessions. Need I say more?

There are so many more wonderful author events and blogger/vlogger workshops than I’ve had space for in this post and I strongly urge you to visit the website to check out everything that’s going on. It’s a jam packed day that I’m certain will be a roaring success but you need to buy tickets if you want to go! Maybe I’ll see you there? Come and say hello if you see me, I’m sure to be lurking in some capacity!

Aw… bibliobeth turns 3!

Published January 5, 2016 by bibliobeth

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It’s my blogoversary today and I can’t believe I’ve been blogging now for three years – just where has the time gone? 2015 was one of my best years to date, I met some lovely fellow bloggers at events such as YALC and YA Shot and Crime In The Court, interviewed some top authors like Alexia Casale, Alison Rattle, Karen Maitland, Sarah Hilary, Jane Elson and Piers Torday (to name a few!), carried out my first face-to-face interview with Jason Starr (post to be published soon) and ran my very first blogging workshop with my lovely sister Chrissi Reads! That’s a whole lot of things to be excited about and if I can be half as successful in 2016 I will be one happy blogger indeed.

I just want to thank EVERYONE who reads my little old posts whether you’re a bibliobeth virgin or a returning reader, it really means the world to me and I couldn’t do it without your support.

So, to celebrate my blogoversary I will be running a giveaway where the prize is four books of your choice (excepting textbooks and ridiculously prized books) from Amazon or The Book Depository. I’ll leave the giveaway open until the end of January to give people a chance to enter where I’ll then pick a winner and update you all. Please make sure if you are under eighteen you have permission to email me your address so I can send your books. Enter below!:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway IS international so why not try your luck?

Once again, thank you so much to everyone in the blogosphere for making this such a great community to be part of. Here’s to hopefully many more years of blogging ahead. Good luck everyone!!

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YA SHOT – 28th October 2015, Uxbridge, London

Published October 21, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

YA Shot is a one day event for young adult and middle grade fiction in London where seventy-one authors will participate in talks and book signings. It has all been organised by the lovely Alexia Casale, author of The Bone Dragon and House of Windows who decided on a YA Shot five-word “ethos,” that it should be generous, passionate, inclusive, challenging and fun and she has put together a fabulous programme that is sure to excite anyone who is enthusiastic about young adult fiction.

Tell us more?:

The event in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstones Uxbridge will host various “panel” and “in conversation” talks throughout the day at different sites all within easy walking distance of each other. There will also be an opportunity to attend workshop events hosted by bloggers and vloggers active in the UK at the moment.

What kind of talks?:

There are so many talks planned that look so interesting! I will be trying to attend as many as possible (that is, until I have to go host one of the workshops with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads in the afternoon!)

The ones I’d love to go to include:

11.30am – 12.30pm Playing with Time: Historical fiction and historical settings – Chaired by Natasha Farrant with Lucy Coats, Rhian Ivory and Alison Rattle

12.45pm – 1.45pm Crime and Punishment: Fictional wrongdoing and human rights – Chaired by Laura Jarratt with Cat Clarke, Keren David and Emma Haughton

2pm – 3pm Trigger Warning: Exploring sensitive issues in ethical ways – Chaired by Alexia Casale with Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne and Louisa Reid

12.45pm – 1.45pm Treasured Land: Nature as a character and concern in YA – Chaired by Piers Torday with Lisa Heathfield and Anna McKerrow

4.40pm – 5.40pm Tragedy! Tackling sadness in fiction for younger teens – Chaired by Candy Gorlay with Jane Elson and Aoife Walsh [MG event, suitable for children aged 7-11 as well as adults]

Aagh, I can already see I’ve got a clash and am going to have to think carefully about which talk I want to go to! This is only a small sample of what’s on offer and I can honestly say I think there’s something for everyone.

Don’t forget the workshops as well! Chrissi Reads and I are hosting one at 3:45 pm about How To Get Started With Blogging. If you’re new to the blogging world or already have your own blog but want to know a bit more about getting things going, please come along and we shall try our best to make it worth your while. We’ve also got Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies and a member of the Bookish Brits who will be talking about group projects and reading challenges, Benjamin of Tomes who will show you how to get started with vlogging, Debbie from Snuggling on the Sofa and Daphne of Winged Reviews who will show you how to develop your brand and increase your followers and Jim from Ya Ya Yeah and Wei Ming Kam of Rare, Medium, Well Done who will discuss diversity in literature. To name a few!

Which authors are going to be there?:

I’m just going to throw a few names out there:

Alexia Casale (obviously)

Piers Torday, author of The Last Wild series

Jane Elson, author of A Room Full of Chocolate and How To Fly With Broken Wings

C J Daughtery, author of The Night School series

Tanya Byrne, author of Heart-Shaped Bruise and Follow Me Down

Emma Carroll, author of Frost Hollow Hall and The Girl Who Walked On Air

Holly Bourne, author of Soulmates and Am I Normal Yet?

Cat Clarke, author of Undone and The Lost And The Found

James Dawson, author of This Book Is Gay and All Of The Above

And that’s just a few of them.

Where can I buy tickets?:

Tickets are still available from the YA Shot website. Online orders will close at 6pm on Tuesday 27th October but there may be some available on the door on Wednesday 28th October.

Any more information?:

Please see the official YA Shot website which will tell you everything else you need to know. Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Author Interview – Jane Elson on her second novel, How To Fly With Broken Wings for YA Shot

Published October 15, 2015 by bibliobeth

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Jane Elson with staffie Shireen from The Dogs Trust at Harefield – photo provided by author

JANE ELSON – A BIOGRAPHY

After performing as an actress and comedy improviser for many years, Jane fell into writing stories and plays. A Room Full of Chocolate was her first book for children and won Peters’ Book of the Year and the Leeds Book Award as well as being longlisted for the Branford Boase and nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Her second book How To Fly With Broken Wings  has been Longlisted for Hillingdon Secondary Book of the Year and the Hounslow School Libray Service Junior Book Award.When she is not writing Jane spends her time running creative writing and comedy improvisation workshops for children with special educational needs and volunteering at Kentish Town City Farm. Jane was also Selected as a New Voice in the Guardian’s guide to The Best New Children’s Books 2014, Jane is described as ‘A new author to watch.’

Click on the books to get to their description on GoodReads!

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For my review of A Room Full Of Chocolate please click HERE.

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INTERVIEW WITH JANE ELSON

I’d like to welcome Jane to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview!

1.) How To Fly With Broken Wings is your second novel, following the amazing A Room Full Of Chocolate. After the huge success of your debut novel did you find it difficult to write the second or was the story always there to be told?

I actually started writing How to Fly With Broken Wings before I had finished the draft of A Room Full Of Chocolate, which I submitted to my now agent, Jodie Hodges. I was attending Lou Kuenzler’s Writing for Children Workshop at City Lit and the first chapter just fell out on the page and the story started to pour from me. I really enjoyed the experience of writing in the two voices of Willem and Sasha. I think How to Fly is the most complex project I have ever tackled but I loved every moment of working on it, and for that I have my amazing editor Naomi Greenwood to thank. She makes the editing process a creative joy, so even when I was working long- long hours on my story, it was enjoyable. However tired I got it never felt like a slog as Naomi has such a talent for helping me bring out the best in my writing.

2.) How To Fly With Broken Wings follows a young boy with Aspergers Syndrome who is trying his hardest to make friends. Have you had any personal experience with bullying and how did it affect your life?

Yes, I was bullied at school. I was an undiagnosed dyslexic and dyspraxic, which made me an easy target. The kid who was clumsy and very uncoordinated – so easy to mock. I hated PE so much. So much bullying seemed to happen in those lessons. I remember the teacher doing this thing where the last child to get changed after swimming and back on the coach would lose 10 house points. Of course it was always me. Getting changed quickly and dealing with buttons and shoe laces can be a challenge for a dyspraxic!

I remember as if it were yesterday, the misery of trying to run to the coach with half my clothes on inside out and still wet from swimming as I had not had time to dry myself properly.

I would say bullying affected my confidence in a big way. I now work one morning a week with dyslexic and dyspraxic children, some of whom have Aspergers Syndrome.

The bullying I went through has given me a big insight and understanding into some of the challenges many young people face.

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From Jane’s Pinterest board: moods by LEGO face, source – designholic at flickr.com

3.) Willem and Sasha bond in the novel over their love of flying. What kind of research did you have to carry out in order to bring their story to life?

Oh my goodness, I have never done so much research in my life! The acknowledgement list at the back of my book is huge. There are too many people to mention all of them here so I will just name a few, starting with the nitty gritty – the technical stuff.

I read a whole manual on How To Fly a Spitfire! I was also lucky enough to coincidently bump into a man, Andrew Pearce, who knew everything about Spitfires.

My cousin Sally helped me with the science and made it fun and easy for me to understand, as it’s not my strongest subject.

My publisher, Hodder Children’s Books, was adamant – and rightly so – that if I was going to tell the story I wanted to tell, then the bullies had to get the appropriate punishment.

My friend Paula, put me in touch with Steven Wilkinson, a retired policeman, who was able to advise me on police procedure for the climax of the story. My friend Curtis Ashton, a social worker who has worked extensively with Young Offenders, was so valuable in making sure that we had the appropriate punishments for Finn and his gang in How To Fly With Broken Wings.

Next came the research for the historical texture of my story. The research I enjoyed the most was visiting the vintage shop Circa who helped me explore the beautiful textures and fabrics of 1940’s fashion and let me peep in the 1940’s handbags, smell the face powder, feel the silk and embody Rachel’s world – the female Spitfire Pilot in my story – as she danced the night away in her red dress. My friend Leon, an expert in dance, talked me through 1940’s dancing – the jitterbug and jive.

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Diana Barnarto Walker – one of the “Spitfire Women,” – Jane’s inspiration for the character of Rachel (photo provided by author)

 

The research that moved me the most was watching documentaries about the Spitfire Ladies of the ATA. I was so touched by these women, now very old but with such twinkling eyes, that have known the freedom of flight: the feeling of dancing with the clouds in a Spitfire. Life was never the same for them when the war ended. Most of them never had the opportunity to fly again. That really tore at my heart. I have such respect and admiration for their bravery and the vital part they played in World War 2.

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Maureen Dunlop, an Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilot featured on the front cover of The Picture Post magazine on the 16th September 1944. One in ten female pilots died flying for the ATA. Maureen died at the age of 91 in May 2012. Jane says: “She became the glamorous cover girl image of the war. People loved this image as it showed women could be brave and beautiful.”


The other bit of research that moved me deeply was the plight of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier or Staffie as they are commonly known. They are the most abused breed and a huge percentage of dogs in rescue centres are Staffies. They are loyal beautiful dogs – known as the nannie dog as they actually are so good with children. Even so, they have gained an undeservedly bad reputation through the media, as so many lads like Finn and his gang in How to Fly choose this breed to strut down the street with thinking it makes them look tougher. This powerful and brilliant RSPCA You Tube video Britain Love Your Staffie, really tugged at my heart strings.

I thought back to the books I had read as a child and so often it was a Collie dog, or Retriever or a lovable but scruffy mongrel, but I couldn’t think of any story with a Staffie –and so Buster was born. He was such fun to write and I thought it an interesting dynamic to make him Finn’s dog but a total softie, showing the true nature of the breed. As they say there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.

Dogs Trust Harefield were so supportive with what I was trying to do with Buster. Richard Moore, the manager met with me and introduced me to the dogs. I had a lovely morning playing with and having my photograph taken with Shireen, a beautiful little white Staffie, for the inside of the back cover of How To Fly With Broken Wings. Shireen, I am thrilled to say, found her forever home the week after the photo session and is so happy with her new family.

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From Jane’s Pinterest board and her inspiration for the Staffie Buster in the novel (and coz it’s too cute, I couldn’t resist!) Source: petsandlove.net

4.) You are appearing at YA Shot in Uxbridge this year on a panel about tackling sadness in fiction for younger teenagers. Is it crucial for you as an author to get an important message across in your books?

I never write a book thinking I want to get a message across. The story is always paramount but through the characters issues naturally arise and it’s important I am responsible about this. I am very aware that children in the MG age range 8-12 often are dealing with the same issues as the YA age group. It is important to me reaching out to those children. I applaud Jacqueline Wilson for the subjects she has tackled and I feel that she has paved the way for other authors to be able to do this.

5.) Do you believe that libraries still play an important role in inspiring young people to read?

Yes definitely. I think there is something very precious about choosing a book in a library, taking it home, getting lost in the story, then bringing it back and exchanging it for another story to treasure. I still remember my first trip to the library when I picked Orlando, a story about a ginger cat who had adventures. In my job as an author I have seen some amazing libraries, both public and in schools. I love it when they are lively and the hub of the school or community. They are also relatively safe places for children to go when they have nothing else to do in the long school holidays. I see time and time again in my local library, flocks of children drifting in off the streets and shifting through the books then finding something that captures their imagination and sitting there quietly for hours lost in another world. That’s magical really if you think about it. Libraries are vital to the community and must be protected.

6.) Have there been any authors in particular that inspired you as a writer?

I realize the books I read as a child inspired me to be on the path I am now – but of course I did not realize it at the time, as it never occurred to me that I could be a writer. It was beyond my imagination as I spent my whole time at school being punished for my bad spelling. However the stories I wrote were passed under the desk and read by the other kids in secret during science – yet still the penny did not drop that maybe, just maybe I had a knack for storytelling.

When I was a child I loved books by Noel Stretfield particularly When The Siren Whaled – I performed a piece from that book to get into my after school drama classes. It really is a wonderful book. The other book of hers I loved was Ballet Shoes. I think this book had a major influence in my ending up in the theatre. I have a flare for improvisation, so making up stories and reading and performing them was the passion of my life – yet still it didn’t occur to me that maybe I could write stories down. I also read all the Enid Blyton books, of course. If you had told me when I was a child that I would grow up and be published by Hodder Children’s Books who also publish Enid Blyton and Noel Stretfield, I would never have believed you in a million years.

When I met my editor, Naomi Greenwood, for the first time she asked me about my background. Naomi said something along the lines of – you have always been on the path to this moment, only you didn’t realize it. I remember looking round and seeing all the displays of Enid Blyton and Noel Stretfield books and it was a really profound moment, like my life suddenly made sense.

Horse books were also my passion as a child – I loved Black Beauty and My Friend Flicka. On my next book cover, Swimming To The Moon, Michelle, my lovely designer is going to put a horse on the front! This is the ultimate dream for me – I am so excited. I like to relax by going to Kentish Town City Farm to see the horses in particular Winston a big black cob who I have really bonded with.

Entering the world of children’s books as an adult, there are many writers who have inspired me. For example, the late Siobhan Dowd – Solace of the Road is a stunning piece of literature; David Almond’s Skellig is one of my favourite books of all time; I also love Hilary Mckay. Naomi, my editor gave me a copy of Permanent Rose. I loved it so much and promptly went out and bought the whole Casson Family series. Hilary’s writing is just delicious. I was so honoured that one of my first author appearances was at the Hay Festival on a panel with Hilary Mckay.

7.) How do you see the future of YA/MG fiction?

I think as the world changes the stories that need to be told naturally evolve with the issues young people face. But I always hope that young people will continue to read classic books from days gone by. I think it is important to understand the stories of the past to make sense of the present.

7.) Are you working on anything now and can you tell us a little bit about it?

The book I am writing on now is called Swimming To the Moon about a quirky, very clumsy girl called Bee who has a love of hats. Bee can’t swim, yet accepts a double dare to enter a sponsored swim to raise money for the local old people’s home where her great grand Beatrix lived before she died. Bee misses her so much she can’t breathe. Then she meets Moon-Star Higgins a traveller, who feels like a trapped animal in school. The two make a pact by the Promise Tree in the woods that cannot be broken and both their lives are changed forever.

Swimming To The Moon is a book about love and grief and reaching for your dreams.

And now for some quick fire questions!……

E book or real book?

Real books – every time, I love the smell and touch of a book and the satisfaction of holding it in your hand and finishing it.

Series or stand alone?

Both – some standalones stay in your memory forever and are perfect just as they are. There is something very exciting though about reading a series. I mentioned the Casson Family series earlier by Hilary McKay. It’s lovely to have a whole collection on your shelf.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction – I love to escape into another world. However, doing research gives me a chance to explore non-fiction books I would never normally read.

The How to fly A Spitfire manual springs to mind!

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Bookshop trawling definitely. I love exploring bookshops – all those possibilities! I love it when I am visiting new places and suddenly come upon an independent book shop to explore.

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Bookmarking without a doubt. I have a whole collection including a beautiful one that my friend Chris embroidered for me. However sometimes I grab anything to hand to mark my place and forget it’s there. I love it when years later I come upon notes and all sorts of treasure within the pages of my books.

My dad used to put leaves in between the pages of his nature books. They were really beautiful.

 

Once again, thank you so much to Jane for her efforts in making this interview possible. How To Fly With Broken Wings was published on 3rd March 2015 by Hodder Children’s Books and is available from all good book retailers. Why not check out her awesome debut novel, A Room Full of Chocolate too?

Coming tomorrow on bibliobeth – my review of How To Fly With Broken Wings.

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YA SHOT REVIEW – The Wild Beyond (The Last Wild #3) – Piers Torday

Published October 14, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

FROM THE WINNER OF THE GUARDIAN CHILDREN’S FICTION PRIZE.

The final heart-stopping instalment of the bestselling, award-winning The Last Wild trilogy.

This is the story of a boy named Kester. He has brought the animals of his world back from the brink of disaster, and he believes there is hope on the other side. And, he might just be right, because:

1. The last blue whale on the planet is calling to him.

2. His animal allies are ready for one last fight.

3. Out there, somewhere, a brave mouse holds the key to the future…

What did I think?:

This is the last book in Piers Torday’s wonderful series The Last Wild and I’m pretty sad that it’s all come to an end as I’ve really enjoyed it. Ah well, that’s what re-reading is for I guess. I will also try and keep this review is as spoiler-free as possible but I really recommend reading the first two books in the series if you haven’t so far – you’ve missed a lot! When we meet Kester, our main character again in this novel, the tone is a little more melancholy than the previous two books. Kester is now surrounded by his friends, the loyal Polly and fiesty street-wise Aida, his slightly eccentric but well-meaning father and his faithful Wild, including Stag, Wolf, General and a very happy Rat.

However, the city of Premium has been left in tatters after suffering a flooding from the local river Ams and a mass extinction of animal life. It is only Kester’s group and a small number of other individuals that managed to survive and Kester isn’t filled with much hope for their future. In fact, the only hope for humanity is in Polly’s secret which was unearthed in the last novel and unfortunately, this secret now lies in the paws of Mouse who has completely disappeared. If she is in the hands of Selwyn Stone, the evil and misguided director “in charge” of Premium, Kester realises that he may never see her again and humanity will certainly be doomed.

To Kester’s surprise and delight, the Wild returns again in the form of a huge blue whale that is singing an ancient song with some wonderful news. It mentions that the key to life can be found on a remote desert island but it is unable to describe where the island might be. Enter the good old pigeons and a new friend called Eagle who doesn’t seem to have much of an opinion on anything but he is able to locate the island – hooray! However, the group go through many trials before they travel and even encounter a frightening new nemesis in one of Stone’s sidekicks, Auntie Fenella who is definitely not as sweet as that name suggests!

As with the previous two adventures, this is an action packed and exciting finale to the series that brings more new friends to chuckle at (the lizard is hilarious, “dude”), a bit of a twist to mess things up slightly and a beautiful but very bitter-sweet ending that I have to say brought a tear to my eye. Most reviews I’ve read of this book have also praised the ending and I’m so glad as it could go either way to be honest. It may not be all fairy-tale or happily ever after but it’s real and honest and I have more respect for the author for doing what he did rather than choosing perhaps what would have been the easier way out. The characters really got under my skin in this series and I started to care about what would happen to them – my absolute favourites had to be General the cockroach, the Mouse, the Toad, the Rat and the Lizard but they all have a certain quality to them that children (and adults!) will love. Oh please say you’ll do a spin off book featuring one of these characters, Piers?

For my review of The Last Wild, please click HERE.

For my review of The Dark Wild, please click HERE.

For my interview with Piers Torday, please click HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Come back to bibliobeth tomorrow where I will be interviewing YA Shot author Jane Elson on her fantastic new book, How To Fly With Broken Wings.

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Piers Torday (lost in the wild?) image from http://www.guardian.com

YA SHOT REVIEW – The Dark Wild (The Last Wild #2) – Piers Torday

Published October 13, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Twelve-year-old Kester thought he had discovered the last wild animals in the land. He thought his adventure was over. He was wrong.

Below the sparkling city of Premium, deep underground, a dark wild remains: animals who believe the time is right to rise up against their human enemies.

And soon Kester realises: he is the only one who can stop them.

Kester Jaynes saved the animals. Can he save the humans too?

What did I think?:

The Dark Wild is the second in Piers Torday’s excellent Last Wild series and for me it was just as gripping and exciting as the first novel. Our hero of the story is Kester, a twelve year old boy who cannot speak but manages to communicate with animals and this leads him to save the last few remaining species on the planet. In a dystopian future, a mysterious virus has swept the globe killing off the majority of animals while others were culled by humans for fear of infection. A mega corporation known as Facto and headed by the ambitious and determined Selwyn Stone now runs the world as he sees fit, manufacturing the world’s only food supply, the unappetising “formula.”

On his previous adventure, Kester meets a young girl called Polly who turns out to be the best friend he never had. In The Dark Wild though, Polly appears to be harbouring a dangerous secret. When she suddenly disappears along with his father whom he is trying to build a stronger bond with, Kester’s worst fears are immediately recognised. He has been hearing a strange but yet not unfamiliar whispering from the drains and when he goes underground to investigate he is shocked to find hundreds of animals plotting together in the biggest animal revolution ever. Their plan? To take back the world they believe is rightfully theirs and to fight against the humans who destroyed them.

Kester must use his gift for animal communication in all the right ways if he is going to save the world, his friends and family and, of course, the animals. He will come across many more challenges in his effort, one of whom is the leader of the opposition, Dagger an aggressive white dog with metal teeth, a thirst for revenge, a bad attitude and a serious grudge against humanity! In the midst of all this chaos, Kester also manages to make a few new friends (animal and human) and he will definitely need all their help too if Dagger’s plan is to be thwarted and Polly and his father rescued.

This novel won The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2014 and now I’ve read it, I must pronounce it a very deserving winner! I enjoyed the fact that it was a completely separate adventure for Kester and the gang although it still had connections to the first book. Again, we have the adorable animal characters and I loved them all, even the villain of the piece, Dagger who just fascinated me with his metal teeth. Then we have the return of The Stag and Wolf-Cub, the latter being the size of a fully grown wolf now but is still as excitable as ever, especially when it’s something he feels he can be “the best” at! The two creatures that really touched me in this book were the Mouse who does her own little random dance to illustrate how she is feeling i.e. The Dance Of The Flying Metal Machine which apparently features a lot of spinning. Of course it does! The second is a new character for the series and quite possibly the most miserable Rat in the world who helps Kester navigate his way underground as long as he promises to be his friend and never leave him. Aw.

For me, this series keeps getting better. The Dark Wild builds on the strength of the last novel and it seems the author’s imagination knows no bounds as he takes us on a journey which is slightly darker than the previous book but greatly satisfying in its conclusion. I appreciated everything the author was trying to get across with important underlying elements like the environment, animal extinction and animal cruelty whilst also stressing the importance of friendship, loyalty and family throughout. Yes, at times it may seem a bit fantastical and you may have to suspend your disbelief but it’s a children’s book. Of course there should be magic, adventure, exaggeration and dastardly villains, that’s what makes young adult or any other young fiction so exciting. It’s also why I’m jumping up and down in anticipation of the final book!

Visit bibliobeth tomorrow for my review of the final book in The Last Wild trilogy – The Wild Beyond.

For my first review of The Last Wild, please click HERE

For my interview with Piers Torday, please click HERE

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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YA SHOT REVIEW – The Last Wild (The Last Wild #1) – Piers Torday

Published October 11, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

This is a story about a boy named Kester. He is extraordinary, but he doesn’t know that yet. All he knows, at this very moment, is this:

1. There is a flock of excited pigeons in his bedroom.

2. They are talking to him.

3. His life will never be quite the same again…

What did I think?:

Welcome to a very special week on bibliobeth! On the 28th October 2015, many popular authors in the world of young adult fiction are coming together in Uxbridge, London for a days worth of inspiring talks and interesting workshops otherwise known as YA SHOT, spearheaded by the wonderful author, Alexia Casale. I’ll be writing a separate post soon about the day, but this week will see reviews of all three books in Piers Torday’s Last Wild series accompanied by an interview with the man himself. Later on this week, I will also review Jane Elson’s new novel – How To Fly With Broken Wings which will be followed by an interview/grilling on what inspired her to write this, her second novel. For now, it’s back to Piers and his best-selling debut novel, The Last Wild which was short-listed for the Waterstones Children’s Book award and nominated for many others, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal.

I knew I was going to enjoy The Last Wild when I read the synopsis (hey, it’s talking animals, always a plus point for me!) but I had no idea exactly how much I was going to love it. Our main character is a young boy called Kester, a modern day Dr Doolittle who finds he has a rather unusual gift for talking to animals after a rather strange meeting with a rather bold little cockroach. The world that Kester inhabits is in terrible peril where an unusual disease has wiped out almost all the animals on Earth and the humans are reduced to eating a bland food-stuff known as “formula,” to survive.

Kester is the first human the animals have been able to communicate with and they desperately need his help. After escaping from a home for “troubled children,” Kester manages to gain the confidence and trust from the last few animals that he can help them from becoming wiped out forever. Kester joins forces with Polly, a young girl whose parents have disappeared and even though he can’t communicate properly with her he has no such issues with a gentle stag, a boisterous wolf cub and the previously mentioned military cockroach, known as General of course (sir!). Kester has no idea however on how intense and dangerous his mission to save the last wild will become. There are villains aplenty, eager to thwart Kester at every turn, but also new friends to meet and protect, a cure to figure out and a world to change.

This is a fantastic and imaginative debut novel that I’m certain is destined to become a classic in the world of children’s literature. I love the animal characters and the bond that develops between them and Kester as the story develops and the adventure and excitement of the plot is non stop and intensely readable. I also enjoyed the message that the author was trying to get across which was combined with such a wonderful sense of humour and fun that it was always a treat to be reading it. Piers Torday has created a lovely little mystery within the plot and I can’t wait to see how it develops over the series and affects Kester as a character. I must also mention the illustrations in this novel by Thomas Flintham, especially the map at the beginning which let the reader picture the surroundings with perfect clarity. Finally, I have to mention the villains of the piece, who I absolutely loved to hate and who may go down in literature history as being some of the creepiest and creative individuals that just came alive and jumped off the page for me. A brilliant start to a beautiful and thought-provoking new series for children that will easily appeal to adults too, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Kester and his Last Wild.

Visit bibliobeth tomorrow to read my interview with Piers Torday where we’ll find out the answer to what we all want to know – does he dog ear his books?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

thelastwild