Interview with Eve Ainsworth

Eve Ainsworth 2019 credit Linda Woodard (1).jpg

photo credit: Linda Woodard 2019

Today I bring to you a very exciting post! I’ve been very lucky and had the opportunity to ask the wonderful Eve Ainsworth some questions about her writing and, in particular, her new release Because of You, which is out this month with Barrington Stoke. I raced through this one and, even though it’s a lot shorter than her other books, it was packed with such important themes and still felt like it explored those topics so well and I loved reading it!

For those who haven’t had a chance to read Because of You yet, how would you sum it up?

Because of You is about a young girl, Poppy, who is struggling with some huge changes in her life. Her mum is moving her new boyfriend into her house, her Dad is becoming more unreliable and school life is both challenging and unpredictable. Poppy is juggling lots of things all at once and suddenly they all seem to be crashing down around her.

img_5365Your books cover such important topics that can be quite hard-hitting, and Because of You is no exception. As a reader who’s been affected by a few of these issues but has felt that you’ve hit the nail on the head with how you’ve tackled them, I’m interested to know how do you go about “getting it right”?

That’s quite hard to answer as I don’t always know! I’m just glad to hear that I am getting it right, as that’s all that matters to me. I guess I didn’t have an easy time of it growing up, which is something I’ve never forgotten and is often reflected in my books. I also spent many years working closely with teenagers who were struggling with various issues, so I hope that this has helped me to keep my books authentic and fresh.

How do you choose the topics that you write about?

I usually come up with a character first and weirdly that character will often ‘tell’ me what it is that is troubling them. It’s a very strange process!

Because of You was slightly different because I knew I wanted to focus on blended families, as I know it’s something a lot of young people experience and can have difficulties with and I like my books to be reflective. It was only while writing the book that I realised Poppy was going to be bullied too. Often my writing is very instinctive and character-driven and takes me on quite an exciting journey while I’m writing!

img_5721I really understood how Poppy was feeling throughout Because of You and I think she handles everything in such a mature way and is really a character to look up to! Where do you get your inspiration from for your characters, and how do you manage to get them to reflect how real teens and young adults feel in such an accurate way?

Again I think that it helped that I worked with teenagers for quite a long time in a very direct job – so they would talk to me in an open and honest way. I also have a big family, so have a lot of young people around me. I find it hard to tell you where my characters come from, because they just evolve in my mind over time. I’m not even quite sure how it happens! I’m just glad that my brain manages to create them for me.

Barrington Stoke do an amazing job of bringing engaging stories to a wider audience by producing dyslexia friendly books – was the process of writing a novella specifically for Barrington Stoke a challenge compared to writing a novel?

Not at all. To be honest, it’s been an amazing experience. I had to make sure that I kept the story and plot tight, because the books are much shorter, but I found that to be an exciting challenge. Barrington Stoke focus on the editing to ensure that the book is dyslexic friendly, so I don’t have to worry about that part, they just want me to focus on the story. This mean the book is specifically edited, and goes through a few more ‘editing stages’ but it is a fascinating process and one I loved being part of.

img_5722There’s been a lot of discussion since I started blogging about the decline of sales of UKYA, but at the same time there’s been such a lot of support shown towards authors because it’s such a vital category. As a leading author of UKYA, what’s your take on this and what can we all (authors, publishers, readers etc) do to encourage UKYA?

I think we all just need to continue what we are doing already – but perhaps a little louder and prouder. We need to shout loud about those amazing YA books that have been read, promote authors who might not be as visible and keep being champions of this wonderful eclectic, diverse and exciting genre.

Wow – what wonderful answers! Thank you so much to Eve for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Kristin at Barrington Stoke for arranging this for me! Because of You is out today from Barrington Stoke, and I’d highly recommend getting a copy!

kayleigh

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: 9th July 2019

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl! I’m here with a post that was fun to reflect on all the books I’ve read so far this year.

Character Freebie: My Favourite Characters of 2019 So Far

  1. 65437136_2264371210543422_3580393001359822497_nEmily – No Big Deal (Bethany Rutter)
  2. Matt – Fierce Fragile Hearts (Sara Barnard)
  3. Sunita – New Class at Malory Towers (Narinder Dhami)
  4. Owen – Owen and the Soldier (Lisa Thompson)
  5. Kayla – Because of You (Eve Ainsworth)
  6. 61971278_415305359064079_2481963016976786297_nHerbert – Malamander (Thomas Taylor)
  7. Isabelle – Stepsister (Jennifer Donnelly)
  8. Luciana – The Golden Butterfly (Sharon Gosling)
  9. Hope – Happy Girl Lucky (Holly Smale)
  10. Camille – Enchantée (Gita Trelease)

It was so hard to narrow it down to just ten characters; I’ve met so many wonderful ones so far this year! Who would make your top characters so far this year?

kayleigh

BECAUSE OF YOU – Eve Ainsworth

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RELEASED: 15/07/2019
PUBLISHER: Barrington Stoke
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Dyslexia Friendly

Poppy’s having a nightmare at home. Her parents have split up and her mum’s new boyfriend is moving in. Dad is the one who’s always been there for Poppy, but now he’s drifting further and further away. It seems like things can’t get any worse until it all goes wrong at school as well and Poppy finds herself being targeted by spiteful bullies. As the vicious online comments keep coming, who can Poppy turn to for help? Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 12+

Eve Ainsworth is a staple author for fans of UKYA contemporary books, and so I was very excited to see that she’s releasing a novella with Barrington Stoke this year! The thing that I love about Eve’s books is how she doesn’t shy away from difficult topics but also creates stories and characters to love. Because of You is no exception.

I think that Eve has really hit the nail on the head with all the emotions that go with being a teen in a non-nuclear family, as well as dealing with some difficult topics such as parents separating, rejection and bullying.  Change is something that can be so difficult to deal with, no matter what age you are, and so to see it handled so positively and constructively is brilliant. I also like how this is suitable for the younger teen market which is an area where there are few books.

This is a standout title from Barrington Stoke for me; it’s full of what makes UKYA so brilliant, but in a way that’s accessible to a wider range of readers, and so I’d highly recommend it!


Thank you to Kirstin at Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this book!

Six for Sunday: 7th July 2019

Hello! It seems like aaaaages since I did one of these posts – I’ve loved seeing everyone’s lists today! Six for Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by A Little But A Lot! Today’s theme is:

Summer Reads: books with sunshine on the cover

  1. sunflowers in februaryI’ll Give You The Sun – Jandy Nelson
  2. Sunflowers in February – Phyllida Shrimpton
  3. The Colour of the Sun – David Almond
  4. how to be a lionGoodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard
  5. The Lion Inside – Rachel Bright, Jim Field
  6. How To Be A Lion – Ed Vere

This one was pretty tricky for me; my books are all shelved double stacked because I have so many and I can’t see them all to get ideas! What books make you think of sunshine?

kayleigh

 

RETURN TO WONDERLAND – Various

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RELEASED: 27/06/2019
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillan
GENRE: Children’s Fiction, Middle Grade

Return to Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland with this stunning collection of original stories from today’s biggest children’s authors – Peter Bunzl, Pamela Butchart, Maz Evans, Swapna Haddow, Patrice Lawrence, Chris Smith, Robin Stevens, Lauren St John, Lisa Thompson, Piers Torday and Amy Wilson.

Tumble down the rabbit hole again to find out what happens in Wonderland without Alice there. Is the Queen of Hearts still ruling with an iron fist? Does the Mad Hatter still have to go to tea? And will Tweedledum and Tweedledee ever resolve their argument?

More than 150 years since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published by Macmillan, revisit Carroll’s amazing cast of characters – including the Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat and Alice’s Sister in these brand-new stories, that will bring a new generation of readers to Wonderland.

I’ll start off this review with a confession; I’ve never read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (I’ve had a copy since I was about 9…it’s still on the TBR, although I’ve read bits!). Alice in Wonderland isn’t even in my top 20 Disney films. That said, I’ve been very excited about reading Return to Wonderland; some of my favourite children’s authors have contributed short stories to this collection and I couldn’t resist finally immersing myself in Wonderland!

I really enjoyed this book; I love how each author’s unique style of writing and voice came through in their stories, and how even for authors I’ve not read before I could pick out what makes people love their writing. The introductory paragraph at the beginning of each story was a really nice touch to introduce you to the author and their story.

Onto the stories themselves; they were magical and wonderful and completely bizarre! The thing that I loved about having modern day authors contributing was that their writing really brought Wonderland to life and in a way that didn’t, for me, come across as stuffy or dated, but at the same time they stayed fairly true to Lewis Carroll’s original.

I’d definitely recommend this book as a brilliant introduction to Wonderland and to classic children’s literature; I think that if I’d read this when I was a child I would’ve been keen to go on to read the original story that it follows on from! It’s amazing that 150 years on from the original, people are still reading about Wonderland and this book is a brilliant addition to that world.


Thank you to Macmillan via NetGalley for the eBook of this title.

Top Ten Tuesday: 25th June 2019

Hello and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. I’m sure that I’ve missed a load off this week’s list; 10 is too hard to narrow down! This week’s topic is:

Books On My Summer 2019 TBR

  1. We Hunt The Flame – Hafsah Faizal
  2. Call It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer
  3. Patron Saints of Nothing – Randy Ribay
  4. The Summer of Us – Cecilia Vinesse
  5. Top Marks for Murder – Robin Stevens
  6. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
  7. After You – Jojo Moyes
  8. Still Me – Jojo Moyes
  9. A Girl Called Shameless – Laura Steven
  10. Heartstopper: Volume 2 – Alice Oseman

I think I have a fairly mixed bunch on my Summer TBR this year, although I definitely lean towards contemporary and chick lit at this time of year! Have you read any of these?

kayleigh

Top Ten Tuesday: 18th June 2019

After the excitement of last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I’m back with this week’s tag, hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. For this I’ve been spending a bit of time with my wishlist going through and deciding which books cut it for the top ten spots! This week’s topic is:

Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

  1. We Hunt the Flame – Hafsah Faizal
  2. The Truth Pixie Goes To School – Matt Haig
  3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Illustrated Edition) – J.K. Rowling, Jim Kay
  4. Return to Wonderland – Various
  5. No Big Deal – Bethany Rutter
  6. Top Marks for Murder – Robin Stevens
  7. New Class at Malory Towers – Various
  8. Because of You – Eve Ainsworth
  9. The Battle for Perfect – Helena Duggan
  10. What Magic Is This? – Holly Bourne

We’re nearly half way through the year, but there’re still lots of wonderful books to come! I’m looking forward to all of these. Which books are you looking forward to in the second half of 2019?

kayleigh

My Audible Favourites

I love audiobooks and have done since I was very little! Today, I’d like to share some of my favourites for both story and narration. Now, this list is by no means an exhaustive list because I have a very large collection of audiobooks spread across cassette tapes, CDs and Audible but all of the ones I’ve mentioned below are available on Audible. I’d highly recommend all of these, and I’m sure that there’s something for everyone among them!

ME BEFORE YOUJojo Moyes
narrated by Jo Hall et al.

I adore Me Before You anyway, both the book and the film, and so I was sure that I was going to love the audiobook too. The narration is brilliant and really absorbs you in the story – Jo Hall really does justice to the character of Louisa.

HARRY POTTERJ.K. Rowling
narrated by Stephen Fry

It wouldn’t be a list of my favourite audiobooks without this series featuring. I love the Stephen Fry and the Jim Dale audiobooks and have listened to them over and over again! One of my favourite Audible memories is driving in the Welsh countryside with my bestie listening to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – it’s divine!

CARAVALStephanie Garber
narrated by Rebecca Soler

Caraval gets a lot of hype, and rightly so; it’s brilliant. Although I did receive a proof copy of this book way back when, it was listening to it as an audiobook that really made me fall in love with this story. I was captivated, and the narration is really good.

ENCHANTÉEGita Trelease
narrated by Justine Eyre

I love Enchantée and as soon as I finished reading I was hoping that there would be an audiobook! I was hoping for a good narrator to bring this story to life, and Justine Eyre is just that.

MIDNIGHT FOR CHARLIE BONEJenny Nimmo
narrated by Simon Russell Beale

This one is up there with Harry Potter for its soothing narration and magical story; I remember listening to this over and over growing up when I had it on cassette!

THE NIGHT CIRCUSErin Morgenstern
narrated by Jim Dale

Whilst I haven’t finished reading or listening to this one, I already know that I love The Night Circus, and Jim Dale is the perfect narrator to bring it to life. As soon as I saw who the narrator was I decided to buy it!

REASONS TO STAY ALIVEMatt Haig
narrated by Matt Haig

I wasn’t sure what this would be like as an audiobook; it’s a highly important book, but I’d never really listened to non-fiction or self-help books before. However, it’s hands down one of my favourites and is surprisingly easy to listen to, and, like the physical book, I’d recommend it highly to anyone who struggles with their mental health and to anyone who would like to understand the difficulties some people face with regards to mental health. Matt Haig makes for a brilliant narrator and it adds a new and personal level to his book.

LOVE LESSONS Jacqueline Wilson
narrated by Finty Williams

My favourite Jacqueline Wilson book by far, Love Lessons is just a good book and Finty Williams does well at narrating it. I had a lot of Jacqueline Wilson audiobooks when I was younger, and this one was by far the best for narration too.

MALORY TOWERSEnid Blyton
narrated by Esther Wane et al.

I got Audible purely to download this collection. Growing up, my favourite cassettes were my abridged Malory Towers ones, and so I needed to be able to listen to it on the go in the modern age! Esther Wane is a brilliant narrator and the cast really support that, and I love that you can recognise some voices from other Blyton audiobooks!

What are your favourite audiobooks? If you’ve not tried Audible, I’d definitely recommend signing up for a free trial to see how you get on! In addition, if you fancy any of the books I’ve mentioned and haven’t received a book from someone on Audible, I can send you a copy!

NEW CLASS AT MALORY TOWERS – Enid Blyton

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RELEASED: 27/06/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE:

It’s time to welcome new girls to Malory Towers, the famous boarding school by the sea, in four brand-new stories by outstanding authors, set in Enid Blyton’s much-loved school.

YA and Waterstones Book Prize-winner Patrice Lawrence introduces us to proud Marietta with her magnificent head of braided hair. A dormitory argument reveals something unusual about Marietta, and something equally unexpected about Alicia.

In Guardian and Stylist columnist Lucy Mangan’s story, student librarian Evelyn is wary of her lively, lacrosse-playing classmates. When one of them becomes a regular visitor to the hushed domain of the library, can Evelyn really trust her?

Sunita Sharma joins Malory Towers surrounded by a sense of mystery, in Narinder Dhami’s fabulous story. But is Sunita really as glamorous as Gwendoline imagines?

In Rebecca Westcott’s heartwarming story, Darrell and friends fear the worst when spoilt Gwendoline’s cousin joins the school. But Maggie is very different from her stuck-up relative . . .

I’ve just devoured this book in one sitting and it’s taking a lot of restraint to not write this whole review in capitals and a jumble of excitable letters! I credit Enid Blyton with being the author who made me into the reader that I am today, and one of the series that I love in particular is Malory Towers. So, when I saw this latest addition I immediately picked it up and couldn’t wait to start reading.

I’ve not read anything by any of these authors before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Authors such as Pamela Cox and Anne Digby in particular have done an amazing job of taking hold of the reins with some of Blyton’s most loved series and so, with New Class at Malory Towers, Patrice Lawrence, Lucy Mangan, Narinder Dhami and Rebecca Westcott had some big shoes to fill! All four have crafted new stories for the 21st century that are set in the world of Darrell Rivers and her friend’s Malory Towers and it felt like being back home. Familiar faces and stories from the original series are referenced throughout although we have the pleasure of meeting a whole host of new girls. I read this book with a warm fuzzy feeling.

I think that my favourite story was Narinder Dhami’s The Secret Princess; it had me laughing along with the girls and I was so entertained. It wasn’t the story that I expected and I raced through it! That said, I did enjoy all of the stories and they all rated either 4 or 5 stars for me.

I do also have to point out the excellent cover illustration from Pippa Curnick. Many of my friends will recall my frustrations growing up as new covers were released of Blyton’s books and illustrations were either just awful or not true to the books. Pippa’s have breathed a breath of fresh air into the series and have made it one that will appeal to readers today as well as to fans of Blyton like me!

I’d highly, highly recommend this book for fans of Enid Blyton both old and new, and I also think that this would make an excellent introduction to Blyton’s books for younger readers who may find the language and setting of the original series a little old fashioned. I adored every second!

The 20 Questions Book Tag

Another tag that I found on YA Books Daily is this one – The 20 Questions Book Tag. I’ve only quickly scanned over the questions weeks ago, so I’m looking forward to going into this with no idea of what I’ll respond!

1. How many books is too many in a series?
I personally love a trilogy; it’s not too much but there’s not too little either! It totally depends on the series though.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?
Ugh. I’m so impatient that I don’t like them! The only time they work is when the rest of the series is already out so I can just go straight onto it haha!

img_37893. Hardback or paperback?
Whilst I am a sucker for a beautiful hardback, I do prefer to read a paperback.

4. Favourite book?
I have too many to choose from! It all depends on genre and what I’m in the mood for. Let’s go for the most obvious choice – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

5. Least favourite book?
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield. SO BAD AND DISTRESSING!

6. Love triangles, yes or no?
I do love a good love triangle…if it’s done well. So long as they’re not for the sake of it, they’re good!

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?
Nothing Tastes As Good by Claire Hennessy. I think I made it about 10 pages in; definition of a triggering and poorly written book.

8. A book you’re currently reading?
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes audiobook…it’s SO GOOD. I love this book, and luckily I’m loving the audiobook too!

e80e9ad4-2eb2-44ee-9eb4-91a8e9c8e5d59. Last book you recommended to someone?
I’m always recommending books haha, though I’ll go for The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie because it’s out today and I’m very excited to reread it.

10. Oldest book you’ve read?
I’d have to say Macbeth by William Shakespeare…I actually kind enjoyed it too!

11. Newest book you’ve read?
Because of You by Eve Ainsworth…which comes out in July. Very new and shiny!

12. Favourite author?
I’m going to have to go for the lady who’s responsible for my love of reading – Enid Blyton

the goldfish boy13. Buying books or borrowing?
Buying! My OCD means that I still really struggle with touching second hand books!

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?
Paper Butterflies…it gets so many good reviews but I just can’t get my head around it!

15. Bookmarks or dog ears?
Bookmarks. I can’t deal with dog ears!

16. A book you’ll always reread?
HARRY POTTER! I try to have an annual reread.

17. Can you read while listening to music?
Not really, I can sometimes read to music that’s in the background like classical or the radio, but generally no.

18. One POV or multiple POVs?
I love both, but I would have to say that I’ve always swayed towards multiple POVs.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
I used to be a one sitting person, but unfortunately working full time and being a sleepy person means that it’s multiple days these days!

57506168_433672453868607_531903434716744590_n20. A book you read because of the cover?
Hmm…I am a sucker for a beautiful cover. Malamander by Thomas Taylor is one that springs to mind because I wanted to buy it for the cover and it sounded pretty good, and then I read it and OMG IT’S AMAZING.

That was quite a fun one to do; it really got me thinking about my likes and dislikes with books!

kayleigh