20 Jul 2022

NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE.

  One of several bloggers {see full Tour list at bottom of this post} who over 5 days will be participating in this Blog Tour. Today {the 3rd day of the Tour) its my pleasure to be sharing my thoughts on ...

NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE by KATE STAVES {With illustrations by EKATERINA USPENSKAYA}.

Genre ... Children's Picture Book (Ages 0-7)

Publication Date ... 21st August 2021

Standalone Picture Book

Estimated Page Count - 32


Now that you’re here,

You’re where you belong.

We’re so pleased to meet you,

We’ve waited so long!


Join giraffes, hedgehogs, penguins and many more adorable animals as they welcome their new babies! Share this sweet, rhyming picture book with the special little person in your life and let them know just how much better life is ‘Now That You’re Here.’ ... Book Tour/Back Cover Blurb


I can only begin to express what a sweet little book this is. 


Featuring a number of different animals, each of them welcoming their new young; rejoicing in what it is to have a new baby in their midst, of how happy it makes them feel.


An ideal gift for anyone introducing a new child into their family unit, Now That You're Here is an endearing story that, written in rhyme, its illustrations bold and beautifully done, quite simply radiates love.


REVIEW UPDATE ...


As well as here on Pen and Paper, I've had so many people both in person, on my personal FaceBook pages and the bookish pages I share with there, question me as to the suitability of giving this book as a gift to a grandchild, to a child who has been recently adopted and as a gift to a new born from an older sibling.


The answer being, yes, yes and yes.


Nowhere is the 'birth' of a child mentioned and nor is there the mention of parents; instead of which each verse celebrates the arrival of a 'new' child with verses like ...


Now that you're here
We're all grinning more
We smile all the time now
Much more than before.

Now that you're here
We guess what you'll do
We dream bigger dreams
And they're all about you.


The lovely illustrations showing different animals {elephants, pandas and, yeah, hedgehogs, to mention but a few} with little ones; some two 'adults' with little ones, others, one 'adult' with one or more young. 


 FGT {22/7/2022}


About Kate Staves ... Kate Staves is an independent children's author living in the historic city of York, when she is not writing fun filled children’s books she is caring for her own two little children and is currently expecting baby number three!


Follow Kate Staves ... ~ FaceBook ~ Instagram



28 Jun 2022

THE MAIDS OF BIDDENDEN.

 One of several bloggers who over 10 days will be participating in this Blog Tour. Today {the 2nd day of the Tour) its my pleasure to be sharing my thoughts on ...


THE MAIDS OF BIDDENDEN by GD HARPER

​Genre ...  Historical fiction

Publication Date ... 16th June 2022

Standalone Novel

Estimated Page Count ... 412


There is no me; there is no you.

There is only us.’

The Maids of Biddenden is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, born in 1100 into a wealthy family from a small Kent village.

Joined at the hip, the sisters overcome fear and hostility to grow into gifted and much-loved women ­– one a talented musician and song-writer, the other a caring healer and grower of medicinal plants. Entangled in the struggles for power and influence of the great Kent nobles of the time, they achieve much in their lifetimes and leave behind a legacy in Biddenden that survives to this day.

This is the heart-warming and inspirational story of two remarkable women leading one joint life, challenging adversity to become the best they can be. ... Blog Tour Blurb/Back Cover Blurb


Avicia knelt and prayed. ... First Sentence, Chapter One; 1106


'I will not be spoken to thus by a woman, even if she is my wife. The Maids are part of me, and I confessed their existence to you before we became bethrthrobed. I will not be their murderer. If you do not understand that, then I do not recognise the woman I love. Many a cotter's daughter would be happy to live in a sunken hut and plough her own fields.'


It was the first time Thomas had ever reminded Gudun of her background, and the sting of the words shocked her out of her rage. She went limp on the floor, her hands covering her face as sobs racked her body. Thomas stood over her, standing stock-still, his jaw set in stern determination. The sobs subsided into sporadic whimpers. ... Memorable Moment, Page 6/65


The story of the Biddenden sisters; conjoined twins who, born in 1100, grow into gifted and much-loved women, one a talented musician and song-writer, the other a caring healer and grower of medicinal plants!


OOH! One of those books that had me hopping from foot to foot {figuratively speaking of course} in sheer excitement, what a great premise.


Whilst I remember reading an account of conjoined  brothers, Chang and Eng Bunker, who, born in 1811, 711 years after the Biddenden twins, were supposedly the original "Siamese twins", I can't remember ever reading a novel featuring conjoined twins which made The Maids Of Biddenden a refreshing read. That its  based on real-life twins, the author telling their, the twin's, story at the back of the book', something of an eye-opener.


The sights, the sounds, the clothes, the customs, the blind faith in king and church, transported back to the 12th century, it all felt authentic; the superstitions of the people as you would have imagined, the hostility, the disdain with which the girls were treat, the village priest's belief that the they were either a punishment from God/product of the devil all too believable. 


And yet for all of that, the chapters told from multiple points of view {mainly one or other of the twins, Mary Or Eliza, though there is an occasional insight from nun Sister Agnes, or the twin's father or step-mother}, the writing is contemporary, simplistic and lacking in lyrical prose, the plot unencumbered by flowery language which made for easy reading.


The sisters, girls who are as physically close to each other as its possible for any two human beings to be and yet have quite different personalities, likes and dislikes; the author seemingly having covered every aspect of the difficulties {and joys} of being a conjoined twin in a tale that cannot fail to pull at the heartstrings ... 


Will the maids ever find happiness or are they destined to spend their lives awaiting 'the splitting'? Will people begin to see them for who they are or are they forever to be viewed with fear, as an oddity? I'll leave it to you to read the book for yourself. You won't be disappointed.


Please Note, part of the Book Tour/Back Cover Blurb and my review is hidden because of what might be seen as spoilers. In order to read simply scroll over to hi-light. Thank you, Felicity



About GD Harper ... I became a full-time author in 2016, publishing three novels under the pen name GD Harper. I have been both a Wishing Shelf Book Award finalist and Red Ribbon winner, been shortlisted for the Lightship Prize, longlisted for the UK Novel Writing Award and longlisted for the Page Turner Writer Award. The Maids of Biddenden was a finalist in this year’s Page Turner Book Award for unpublished manuscripts, longlisted for the Exeter Book Prize and the Flash 500 Novel Award, and shortlisted for the Impress Prize.


Follow GD Harper ... ~ Website ~ FaceBook ~ Twitter


25 Jun 2022

WHY WE WALK {SIENA'S STORIES: 2}.

 One of several bloggers who over 10 days will be participating in this Blog Tour. Today {the 1st day of the Tour) its my pleasure to be sharing my thoughts on ...

WHY WE WALK by SIENA

Target Age ...  Children {Ages 4-6}

Genre ...  Children's Picture Book

Publication Date ... 25th June 2022

Standalone Book 2 of Siena’s Stories

Estimated Page Count ... 34


When we walk we see things that we would have missed if we drove. Things like birds, cats, & squirrels. 

When we walk we have fun spending time together. We talk and learn how walking can help to care for our planet. 


Join Siena and her dad as they walk to school and discover every little step counts.

This is the second book in the Siena's Stories series. The first book, The Dance of the Snow Tractors, was named a top book for children in the automobile category by Newsweek magazine. ... Blog Tour Blurb


My name is Siena. ... First Sentence, Page not numbered


He tells me we must protect our skin from the sun.


I think he also likes wearing a hat because he is losing his hair. ... Memorable Moment, Page not numbered


Why We Walk follows Canadian Siena and her father on their daily walk to school. Siena telling us of the different clothing they wear during the changing seasons; a snowsuit, toque, mitts and boots for her, a wide brim winter hater hat, snow boots, gloves and 3 jackets for her daddy during the winter, lighter shoes, jackets and of course, always a hat on their heads during Spring and Fall for as Siena's daddy tells her 'we must protect our skin from the sun', of the game of 'squirrel' that they play, of the animals they see.


I'm pleased to say that as with the first of Siena's Stories: The Dance Of The Snow Tractors {see my review here} there are lots of bold, full page illustrations that provided no end of amusement to even those of my Little Bookworms {LBW} who are yet to learn to read. The big difference being that this, the second of Siena's stories, had more of a story to it {something that my fellow now 6 year old LBW picked up on straight away and was delighted about}; a story with an environmental issue at its heart, that of the hurt exhaust emissions are causing the planet we live on.


I can't say the thought of the book {or indeed any book} having an environmental message proved popular with all of the adults I spoke to, some of them thinking that children as young as 4, 5, 6 {the age the book is marketed as being particularly suitable for} were too young. 


Me?


Just the kind of conversation I can imagine a parent having with their child {yes, even a child as young as 4} when passing a 'long line of cars, trucks and buses waiting to drop children off' at school, I felt the environmental message was done very well, that it felt very natural, age appropriate and not at all preachy; the very fact it it prompted much conversation surely no bad thing.


My LW's? 


More savvy about environmental issues than I ever was at this age {in fact I can't remember there being a concern}, there was lots of discussion to be had.