Interview with Eve Ainsworth

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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

 

YOU GOT THIS – Bryony Gordon

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Young Adult, Teen, Non-Fiction

I wanted to be a unicorn. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be an astronaut.

But the thing I really wanted to be more than anything else, was a little less like me.

It was only recently that I realised not wanting to be me was at the heart of every dumb decision I ever made. And so now I am writing this book containing all the life lessons I wish someone had taught me.

A book for the teenage girl in me. And for every teenage girl out there. Because the most powerful thing you can be when you grow up is yourself.

Frank and fearless, You Got This openly explores topics like self-respect, body image, masturbation and mental health, making it the perfect companion for young women.

I’ve been keen to read a book by Bryony Gordon since I heard about how she tackles the stigma around mental health and OCD in a fresh way, and as someone who struggles with both of these it’s definitely something that interests me. However, I also feel like a teenager in my head and find grown up books difficult so I’ve not picked up her bestseller Mad Girl (crazy I know).

Then along comes You Got This. Aimed at teens and covering all the difficulties of growing up, which, let’s face it, even us “grown ups” haven’t mastered yet! The comment from Fearne Cotton on the back about this being “A book that every teenage girl needs to read…and every grown woman will wish she had read.” could not be more true. I could seriously have done with this book in my teen years to explain everything that was happening and how you don’t have to have everything mapped out and that it’s okay to just be you.

The main message that I took away from You Got This was exactly that; I have got this! Yes, things don’t always go according to plan and mental health conditions have made things pretty rocky but, ultimately, I’m doing a blimming good job of being myself and that’s the most important thing to be.


Thank you to Team BKMRK for sending me a copy of this book as part of a Twitter competition!

MALAMANDER – Thomas Taylor

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Children’s, Middle Grade, Mystery, Fantasy

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl.

No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up.

And it just got stranger…

This book was a total cover buy; sure it sounded pretty good, but I saw it and I needed it on my bookshelf. That said…

Oh.

My.

Goodness.

I have found a new favourite middle grade book! Malamander is the first book in a long time that I have literally devoured; I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting! I think that I just loved the whole setting of Eerie-on-Sea, the characters, the attention to detail and yet so easy to get lost in style of writing.

Fun fact – Thomas Taylor is the artist behind the original Harry Potter illustrations.

With Malamander, he shows that not only is he a dab hand at art, but also at crafting an incredible world full of mystery and intrigue. Herbert Lemon makes for a brilliant narrator; it’s fun and gripping, and the atmosphere created throughout the book really makes you feel as though you’re there in the story!

I’m quite happy with this review just being a gushy length of text saying how much I loved the book! There are so many twists and turns, and this book really is an experience that I’d hate to even spoil one part of; it’s truly special! My advice is to get yourself a copy as soon as possible, admire the cover, check out the map of Eerie-on-Sea and then settle down for one of the best reads of this year.

On a side note, I’ve now decided that I’d like to work in the Eerie Book Dispensary; I mean, I have a qualification as a dispenser…and I love books…the job’s pretty much mine.

THE PAPER & HEARTS SOCIETY – Lucy Powrie

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RELEASED: 13/06/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary, Teen

A brand new series from Booktuber Lucy Powrie – about what happens when you give up on trying to fit in in and let your weird out! It’s time to join The Paper & Hearts Society …

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn’t want to go to parties – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING – especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back. Maybe it’s the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed’s fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself …

Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?

Ok, so I’m going to be honest; the main reason I wanted to read this book was because of it being written by the lovely Lucy Powrie (if you’ve lived under a rock in the book world, she’s a booktuber and creator of #ukyachat and is just generally a very good bookish person to be aware of!) and because I wanted to support her and to not be the only person not reading this book. The synopsis, whilst fairly good, just sounded too…happy for me. But,

OH. MY. GOD.

I hold my hands up; I was wrong. So completely and utterly wrong.

The Paper & Hearts Society is now one of my favourite books of all time, and if I can throw it at people and make them read it I will. Yes, it was fluffy and happy, but it also had all the feels that make a perfect teen/young adult book! This is exactly the book that I needed when I was a teenager. It makes you feel like you belong and captures exactly how it feels to be a teenager or, in my case, an adult who still feels like a teenager!

The Paper & Hearts Society members are like a little family of people who I instantly took to and they all bring something unique to the group. Please hear me out on the next bit; I’ve tried to word it right! The one thing I was worried about going into this book was having heard about the diversity and I wasn’t sure how that was going to be handled – I like diverse books, but I don’t like it to be the sole focus of the book or character. Personally, for me, it needs to just be a fact of life that doesn’t detract from the main story but adds depth and realism to the characters.

Lucy has mastered this perfectly.

I love how you get to know a character without any judgement and the diversity that’s included in the story is written sensitively and in a way that just makes it normal and accepting, which is how it should be.

So, what are the main things that I took away from this amazing read? Number one has to be the fact that it’s okay to be different and unique and to be passionate about something that you love! Secondly, you have no idea what people go through behind closed doors. Take the time to get to know people, and try not to judge too quickly. We all have our own battles and sometimes not everyone can see that. Finally, books! Above all, this is a book about books for bookworms and I saw books I love, and books I hate, feature throughout this book. It really reignited my love of books.

Now, if you don’t mind me, I’ll be impatiently waiting by my postbox for my preorder and my Paper & Hearts Society member pin to arrive…


Thank you to Hachette via NetGalley for approving my request to read this title!

WWW Wednesday: 14th November 2018

It’s been a MyKindaBook week – I got approved on Friday on NetGalley for three of 2019’s most exciting titles so that threw all my murder mystery plans out of the window!

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What are you currently reading? 

I expected to like Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds, but I didn’t expect to be as hooked as I am! It’s such a good YA contemporary with a little dash of time-travel, which made me a bit hesitant at first, but I’m loving it!

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What did you recently finish reading?

FIERCE FRAGILE HEARTS BY SARA BARNARD. AND YES, IT’S GOING TO LIVE UP TO THE HYPE BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING. I’m just glad that I have other good contemporaries to read otherwise I think I would’ve been left in a massive book hangover from this one!

I also read The Story Orchestra: The Sleeping Beauty this week – it’s my favourite in the series! It’s just a stunning book that I would highly recommend for everyone who loves music and fairytales, and it would make the perfect gift.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Last but not least from my NetGalley recent approvals is Enchantée by Gita Trelease. I’ve been so excited for this ever since I saw the image of the proof on Twitter (it’s STUNNING) – France, revolution, YA…what’s not to love?! I can’t wait to get stuck in.

FIERCE FRAGILE HEARTS – Sara Barnard

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So…as I write this review it’s 2018. I’ve already decided what one of the top books of 2019 is, and it’s this one – the sequel to the equally wonderful Beautiful Broken Things.

I was so desperate for a copy of this book, and I’m so glad that I was approved on NetGalley to read it early! The only reservation I had was that it was so long ago that I read Beautiful Broken Things that I thought I wouldn’t remember anything about it and would struggle to get into the new title, but how wrong I was! It’s a testament to how brilliant Sara’s writing and characterisation is that I was thrown straight back into the world with some of the most wonderful characters!

img_3606A key factor that makes Sara’s books so popular and loved is that her characters are real. They’re perfectly flawed, relatable and diverse. For example, as we’ve previously seen in her books, mental health is a key theme that she gets right – in Fierce Fragile Hearts, whether or not you have experience of anxiety, depression or bipolar, there’re parts of Suze (our main character) that are highly relatable to all readers on some level. However, the thing that I love is that those heavy topics that in so many books you have to put them down, such as abuse and mental health, don’t define the book and overshadow the story. I guess what I’m very badly trying to say is that a subject that could be incredibly triggering is presented in a way that doesn’t detract from your enjoyment of the book.

I could witter on about how much I love this book for ages, and as the day has gone on the intensity of that feeling has grown, along with my feelings for Matt *swoon*. Yet again, a five-star read that I urge everyone to get their hands on!


Thank you to MyKindaBook via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

WWW Wednesday: 10th October 2018

Welcome back to WWW Wednesday and this week I’ve still not read much. But I have acquired a few books that I am super excited to get to!


What are you currently reading? 

I AM SO EXCITED TO START THIS BOOK! I’m classing it as my currently reading as it is 100% the next book I’m starting!



What did you recently finish reading?

Recently I picked up one of my most anticipated picture books of this year; how cute is Oscar?! It’s such a fun story and has brilliant illustrations.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m thinking it’ll be Wish for a Witch or Amelia Fang.

THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG AND THE FIDDLE- David Litchfield

5/5

A stunning sequel to The Bear and the Piano from one of the brightest talents in children’s books today.

Generally, if a book involves David Litchfield illustrations, you can be guaranteed that it’s a good one, especially when he’s also the author. Grandad’s Secret Giant was my picture book of the year for 2017, and The Bear and the Piano is definitely a favourite and very much deserving of all the love surrounding it. The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle, no surprise, is just as good.

I actually love this sequel more than the first book; it was heartbreaking and heartwarming with a very clear and meaningful message about friendship and sharing, and how things may not always work out how you expect but true friendship will always shine through. It is such an important book for adults as well as children to read and love.

I can’t recommend The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle enough and it’s one that I hope finds as much love as the first book! Fans of David Litchfield will not be disappointed, and I hope that he finds many more new fans with the release of this title!


Thank you so much to Christopher and Ellen at Quarto for my copy of this book!

ARCACIA – T.A.Barua

Good evening! I was asked to be a part of the blog tour for Arcacia by T.A.Barua, a new children’s fantasy book. It’s been receiving some good reviews! Here’s the premise:

When a beautiful sorceress-queen, Selina, spurns Setanor, a powerful, jealous northern warlock, an invasion of Western Arcacia begins. To save her newborn triplets from death, they are cast down a magical river to the New World, a place called, ‘London, England.’

Thirteen years later in a cold, Victorian London attic… The future of Sophie, an impoverished orphan looks bleak but everything changes, to her astonishment after a young witch arrives through her bedroom window with an incredible message and a warning. So begins her life in a beautiful, enchanted ancient world…

How do Sophie and her four friends summon the tremendous courage to rescue her long lost family while restoring Arcacia from dark, ruling forces? Mystical beasts, sceptres, powerful witches and daemon-trolls are just some of their challenges. Meanwhile, the dreaded terrifying warlock, Setanor and his witch-consort Lilith have sent a secret enemy to plan their downfall…

Check out the rest of the bloggers involved in the tour!

You can get a copy of Arcacia here.

Have you heard of or read Arcacia? What did you think of it?

THE NIGHT DRAGON – Naomi Howarth

3.5/5

A beautiful look at how it’s okay to be different and on the importance of trying.

I know you shouldn’t judge a book on its cover, but, seriously, look at this one! It’s such a beautiful illustration that I just had to read the book!

The Night Dragon is a gorgeous story that’s perfect for people to read to young children, all about how we are all different and unique in our own ways, and how you don’t have to be the same as everyone else. It also highlights the importance of trying and not giving up, and believing in yourself and others.

I really enjoyed reading The Night Dragon, especially for the illustrations which were so beautiful and colourful! The end of the story was so heartwarming and the illustrations complimented that perfectly.


Thank you to Frances Lincoln via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!