Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book Elves

Yesterday my article about the #bookelves17 featured on writing.ie Wondering what the Book Elves are? Read on..



Book Elves is the brainchild of writer and children's books expert Sarah Webb. Set up initially to boost coverage of books during The Late Late Toy Show. Sarah came up with an idea a few years ago to use the power of social media combined with the knowledge of enthusiastic children's booksellers, publishers, writers and librarians. So using the hashtag #bookelves Sarah and her book elf recruits made recommendations for children's books throughout the Late Late Toy Show. With an increased interest in children's books but a lack of reviews in the mainstream media the idea really took off.

The hashtag and the idea were so popular and so successful that Sarah decided to make the #bookelves active throughout the year. You can find book recommendations for children of all ages using #bookelves17 on twitter and facebook and the campaign involves children's book experts from all over Ireland and many in the UK . You can use the hashtag to search for recommendations or to ask questions. It's a fantastic initiative giving people instant access to a children's books expert and tailor made recommendations. Books make a fantastic gift for children at any time of year. Reading can help children to cope with anxiety and stress and offer a refuge from the pressures of social media and school. You can also make a list of books you might like to borrow from your local library. Your local library staff will also be happy to help you; they can order books from all over Ireland and help you with recommendations.

#bookelves provides a handy place for parents, teachers, aunts, uncles and grandparents to find the perfect books for the children in their lives. I've been a children's bookseller for many years and I've been part of the Book Elves team from the start and yet I have found so many new and wonderful book ideas for my own children from my Book Elves colleagues. So if you want to seek out books for children then I would absolutely encourage you to get involved.



In the meantime here are a few recommendations for this Christmas to get you started. For the under fives I have to begin by recommending The President's Glasses by Peter Donnelly (Gill Books) It's the hilarious story of our own beloved President and a helpful pigeon. It's beautifully illustrated and will undoubtedly be a huge hit with kids and adults alike. Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins) is a wonderful exploration of our planet by the best selling Irish author and illustrator. Another fantastic addition to the bookshelf of any young child is A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea by Sarah Webb & Illustrated by Steve McCarthy which is full of traditional rhymes, poems and songs and includes work from classic Irish authors such as W. B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde (O'Brien Press) Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai & illustrated by Kerasco√ęt (Puffin) is the story of the brave and determined young Malala and everything she has overcome. A truly inspirational story.



For independent readers; five to nine years old. I recommend The Clubhouse Mystery by Erika McGann (O'Brien Press) which is the first in a series of adventure stories perfect for budding spies and investigators. There's a Werewolf in my Tent by Pamela Butchart & illustrated by Thomas Flintham (Nosy Crow) is the hilarious tale of the imaginative Izzy and her school camping trip. For this age group Foclóiropedia by John & Fatti Burke (Gill Books) will have huge appeal. Following on the success of their hugely enjoyable Irelandopedia and Historopedia this is sure to be a hit with it's charming style and gorgeous illustrations.



For confident readers aged nine to twelve there are a wonderful array of choices including a fantastic debut A Place called Perfect by Kilkenny author Helena Duggan (Usborne) a fun fantasy tale reminiscent of Roald Dahl. Another hilarious tale for this age group is Who Let the Gods Out by Maz Evans (Chicken House) as young boy Elliot must team up with some Greek Gods to defeat the daemons. I also highly recommend Letters to the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll (Faber) a superb story of a London brother and sister evacuated to Devon, this is wonderful absorbing storytelling with an intriguing mystery. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo (Particular Books) is a superb illustrated collection of 100 mini biographies of amazing women in science, the arts, sport and politics. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (Orion) is the first in a new fantasy adventure series that's tipped for the big screen and with the kind of magical storytelling that Harry Potter fans will adore.


For Teens and Young Adults I recommend Star by Star by Sheena Wilkinson (Little Island) a tale of a young suffragette arriving in Ireland as the Great War is coming to an end, the influenza epidemic has taken hold and the general election means many women will cast their vote for the first time. Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan (Little Island) is a collection of powerful feminist fairy tale retellings full of intrigue and enchantment. Thornhill by Pam Smy (David Fickling Books) is a fully illustrated dark ghost story with Gothic echoes of children's classics like The Secret Garden. Dave Rudden continues his Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy with The Forever Court (Puffin) with further thrills and spills for Denizen as he learns to control his new powers and new threats rise. This series is perfect for fans of Eoin Colfer, Shane Hegarty and Cornelia Funke. Finally A Skinful of Shadows (Pan Macmillan) is the latest release from the multi award winning Frances Hardinge which features a girl haunted by spirits sent to live with relatives against the backdrop of the English Civil War.
This is just a taste of the many wonderful books available to children and young adults in bookshops and libraries nationwide. For more recommendations don't be afraid to use the hashtag #bookelves17 and get involved.


Here is the original article at writing,ie





Lisa Redmond is a writer of fiction and non fiction, a bookseller and a head book elf. She writes a blog about books, writing and women in history. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fate of Kings by Mark Stibbe & G.P.Taylor


I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Fate Of Kings by Mark Stibbe & G.P. Taylor. This is the first in a new series centering around Thomas Pryce; an 18th Century reverend based on the Kent coast. it is 1793 and "La Terreur" has France in it's grip. The parents of Pryce's beloved French wife are in danger and determined to save them if he can, he travels to France where he meets his wife's uncle and comes under the suspicion of the agents of a secret society with dark intentions. Pryce soon finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of page turning adventure and derring-do. This is a fine start to a series that will no doubt be hugely popular. If you are a fan of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series, or of The Master & Commander series by Patrick O'Brian then you will enjoy this, it's occasionally tongue in cheek, there is action and adventure on every page and it's very, very enjoyable. Although I do think first and foremost the story works as a fun, grown up, boy's own adventure, it is also chock full of interesting women who very often save the hero and save the day. The book features numerous other characters without becoming confusing or feeling weighed down with information. I don't want to give away too much of the plot but the book also features the creation of the first British Secret Service and many of the incidents and characters are based on fact. Great fun for historical fiction fans and hopefully there are plenty more Thomas Pryce adventures to come.

Thanks very much to Rhoda Hardie for a copy of the book.

The Blog tour continues, details here:


The book is available from  Amazon UK   and  Amazon US  and also available in paperback. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Tide Between Us by Olive Collins



Olive Collins second novel is divided into two sections with two narrators, one hundred years apart. The first part, set in the nineteenth century is about Art, who leaves Ireland as an indentured servant bound for Jamaica. He is just a young boy and he soon makes friends among the other servants and among the many slaves on the plantation. The differences between the two groups is made immediately apparent in the way that Art is treated, as he becomes a trusted gardener and indoor servant and later an overseer. His relationship with a young slave woman Flora leads to children but Art is painfully aware that the children are not his to keep and heartache awaits him as his children grow up. I don't want to spoil the book so suffice to say that there is a mystery, left unanswered as section one ends and we hear Yseult's tale. It is 1991 and Yseult is growing old and tired. Her daughter Rachel wants to modernise their beautiful estate, Lugdale in Kerry but Yseult wants life to continue as before, but life at the estate is interrupted as a skeleton is discovered when a storm topples a tree, on the edge of the estate. What is the secret that has been hidden? Yseult must search her own past for answers. This is a fantastic page turning historical tale, beautifully written and revealing the sad legacy of a cruel and inhumane trade and it's close connections to the Irish who were often slave traders and owners as well as intermarrying with the African population in Jamaica. Olive Collins has an eye for detail and a real flair for storytelling. Thanks to Poolbeg and the author for a review copy.

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