Review of Morecambe and Vice -What’s the Worst That Could Happen? @MorecambeVice @lkauthor @cerilowepetrask #CrimeFiction #dystopian #Review

Review of Morecambe and Vice
What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

First thing in the morning of the first day of the festival, the question – “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” was posed. That very question is totally fascinating in itself, but first thing on a Saturday morning in the Midland Hotel, what was the worst thing that could happen? It turned out a lot. This was actually the title of a fascinating panel of authors who had mixed crime and the dystopian world in a believable way and some of it… well… we aren’t too far off.

The panel was created of Lesley Kelly, Ceri Lowe and Matt Brolly. All of whom were excellent speakers and all seemed so comfortable and natural together. The panel was brilliantly  moderated by Tom Fisher, who seemed enthusiastic and got the authors to talk about interesting topics to do with their books and their writing experiences.

Lesley Kelly is the author of the series – The Health of Strangers, which includes killer flu, food, medicine shortages and unscrupulous politicians. This series also has some humour within it. I have written a full review of the latest book in the series that you can check out on my blog.

Ceri Lowe writes a dystopian The Paradigm Trilogy for YA. Her main two characters are 15 and 11 years old. With one of the main themes being climate change, it is about a huge storm occurs in the UK and the scars that are left. It takes the promise of a small group being rescued and stored by “The Industry Group”. The author posed the hanging question of “Are they corrupt or are they saving the planet?” Read to find out…

Matt Brolly writes the DCI Lambert Novels. He spoke of the setting being in the near future in a city that has zero tolerance of crime, so has the death penalty that is automatic if the perpetrator is caught and yet a detective who is a kleptomaniac.

   Matt Brolly, Ceri Lowe, Lesley Kelly

The discussion that ensued was very interesting. Tom had clearly done his homework and given a lot of thought. The questions were coherent and quite a large range from talking directly about apocalyptic worlds to actual world building, but also beyond the writing of the books to coping with rejection. It was a great way to start off the festival. There was something in it for wanna-be writers, the experienced writers and also readers.

I like to sometimes read dystopian novels, even though it is disturbing how close to the truth they become, but that makes them relevant and thought-provoking.

Dystopian Worlds

Matt talked about being fascinated in exploring the extremes he does of a zero tolerance of crime society. He moved away from world building in some ways and writes more about the characters and how they relate to the deterrent, so the world is essentially built through the characters he creates and is kept as close to the present as possible. The fact his book seemed so close to now made me think of the tv series Years and Years and I should think that in Matt’s books there will be much for the population to ponder and also see where things may be heading if something doesn’t change soon. I find people who can write like that can be quite brilliant in getting certain important messages across and they certainly made people pay attention.

Ceri is different in the fact she loves world building and then culls back on the self-indulgent parts. She reckons she could create a whole family tree as well as a companion book to show all the different relationships etc of her many characters. When she started writing, climate change was there, but there wasn’t the news coverage there is now, when her first book was published. The timing of her books now however, make them more relevant than ever, although, even the first book, in my opinion, would still have been important at that time. When she spoke of how she would like to have a family tree type of companion book of character family trees, well, family trees are always intriguing and help link up people or in this case characters and can add some understanding when there are lots of characters.

The Fascination of Dystopia

Lesley, interestingly works in the voluntary sector and plans for lots of things like the flu and talked about Spanish Flu too and what a pandemic that was, with it killing the least expected of the population. It was thought-provoking when she talked about for her books, she considered, from this being an inspirational starting point, how parents and criminals would react and how “cures would be sold”, as well as the government giving “pointless” health-checks. So, her world is more a controlled world that she has created within her books. It again seems so close to now. Awhile back I had the privilege of reviewing this book and it is very good and has some humour in it too, which works really well within her dystopian world.

Matt thinks there’s something fascinating about the fall of routine, confronting fears and starting again.

Author Tips

The authors had great tips and words of encouragement for other writers and those interested in the process. I always find it fascinating to hear how different authors began writing and what their routines are because each is different.

Matt Brolly basically just never gave in. He was agented after 3 years, but it was 20 years until his first book was published. He says to keep writing and submitting. He was also candid in his answer about getting rejections and initially thought it was all to do with his writing. He said it isn’t you personally, but just may not be their choice of book at a particular time. He also gave advice not to wait for 1 person to get back to you and to instead query as many people as possible.

Ceri wrote some short stories for some competitions and won some. She got an idea for a novel.

Lesley said she wanted to be a stand-up comedian but had children and the hours weren’t conducive for her family life. She highly recommends a professional editor. She got longlisted and got feedback and got published by Sandstone.

Sage advice came from both Lesley and Matt about not comparing yourself to others at it is unhelpful. This I was thinking is something that can be applied to everyone’s lives, whether they are an author or not.

Lesley’s next book is Murder at the Music Factory

Matt Brolly’s next book is The Crossing 

Ceri Lowe also has another book coming soon too.

It was interesting to hear what books the authors read too.

Lesley likes Stephen King.     Matt Brolly also likes The Stand by Stephen King and The Road by Cormac McCarthy.      Ceri likes Margaret Atwood

If you ever get the opportunity to see Lesley Kelly, Matt Brolly or Ceri Lowe, I highly recommend that you do. Thanks to them also for interesting and warm chat after their event.
Below are images of their latest books.

book cover of Dead Water           book cover of Death at the Plague Museum          book cover of The Storm Girl\'s Secret


Review of The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty – A Book Full of Adventure and Magic in Mysterious Ways @guppybooks @jaclynmoriarty @bellaeditor #kidslit #adventure #fantasy #fiction #education #libraries #review #Scotland #UK #NewBook #readingforpleasure

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone
by Jaclyn Moriarty
Rated: 5 Stars *****


Bronte Mettlestone has been brought up in a very sensible way by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler. So when her absent parents are killed by pirates and she’s sent on a whirlwind visit to her other ten aunts, she takes it all in her stride. But Bronte’s outwardly sensible nature holds a core of steel and courage, and through her adventures, with water sprites, avalanches, elves and dragons, Bronte shows herself to be the kind of heroine we would all wish to be. This wonderful novel is witty, lively and full of magic and surprises – everything readers young and old could ask for. The kind of novel where you need to make a pot of tea (preferably cloudberry), find a really comfy sofa in front of a roaring fire, and settle in for a magical journey of your own.


Thanks to Guppy Press for allowing me to join them on this book’s amazing adventures by sending me a proof copy of The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty to review, of which I very much appreciated.

By the time I was near the end of this wonderful book, full of adventures I was on my own adventure on a train. So, whether you are on a train or sitting in your home all cosy, this book will allow you to explore many more kingdoms and meet many more people and fantastical creatures. So sit down, relax and allow your imagination to take over and allow some time to escape into this book.

There is a wonderful map at the beginning of the book  showing where the places are that readers will travel as they follow Bronte Mettlestone on her inconvenient adventures within this book. Already I am wondering what the inconvenience is about going on and adventure. It is a great title and I love maps like these. They not only assist in setting the scene, this one in-particular also adds to the excitement of what may be next within the rest of those pages.

From the first page there is action and movement depicted as well as sadness to a certain extent. Bronte is 10 years old and is strong, brave and a likeable character.
This is no ordinary book and things aren’t always quite what you would expect and indeed this book reached more than my expectations. There’s an unusal will, but then her parents were killed in an unusual way, not every child can say their parents were killed by pirates, no matter when they die. Then there’s a quest. Firstly to deliver gifts by following instructions to the letter, right down to the mode of transport to take. This is a quest that she must do alone, so must leave her aunt behind. We first meet her with Aunt Isabelle and then Aunt Sue who lives in Livingstone, Scotland.

There are many great characters to meet and any reader is in for quite the adventure. There are pirates on the loose, causing trouble and Lantern Island to visit.

There is a bit of a mystery about a pepper grinder and a library with books with magical properties. There are many curiosities about this book that would make any child want to read further and delve deeper into this magical adventure with a bit of a detective story too.

Travel into different kingdoms and encounter sprites and dragons and more…
These kingdoms are well constructed and wonderfully imaginative. There is enough to feed into the curiosity and expand the imagination of any child.

The book deals with some pretty big topics but is done so sensitively and are all beautifully wrapped up in the adventures.

It may seem like a big book 389 pages, but there are lovely pictures supporting the written word. The text is a very decent size. The story is an excellent pace and one that has great adventures to mesmerize all children who enjoy a bit of bravery and exploration. It is all written with great imagination, with the worlds developed in ways that children will love and understand. Jaclyn Moriarty has weaved the familiar and the fantasy together very well for children to create this compelling story.

The story has a great ending that children will, through all the adventure, all the trepidation, find it wraps up well at the end and is great escapism.


Title: The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Publisher: Guppy Books
ISBN: 978-1-913101-03-9
Publication Date: October 2019


Review of Star Child – Book One: The Age of Akra @VacenTaylor @OdysseyBooks @rararesources #Rachel’sRandomResources #Fantasy #Kidslit #Adventure #ChapterBook #Australia #Newzealand #UK #BlogTour #Review

Star Child – Book  One: The Age of Akra
by Vacen Taylor
Rated: ****

It is with pleasure that it is my turn on the Random Things blog tour to review Star Child and today is the day of my turn to present it.

The Age of Akra Full Tour Banner (1)


About the Author

Author Vacen Taylor picVacen Taylor is a children’s author with a portfolio of screenwriting and stage play achievements.  A selection of her poetry has been published in Art and Literature Journals. One of her plays was selected to be part of the Playwrights Program 2017 and then directed and performed as a performance reading at HOTA (previously the Gold Coast Arts Centre).

Her feature film script received a special commendation for Best Unproduced Screenplay titled Grandfathers at the British Independent Film Festival in 2018.  The logline can be found under Special Commendations for Unproduced Screenplays here.

Her TV pilot for a series (teleplay) was selected as a semi-finalist in the Hollywood Just4Shorts Film and Screenplay Competition in Los Angeles, CA. This pilot was listed in the top 50 for the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition in 2018.

She presented the first mental health panel at OZ Comic-Con in 2017. This panel was a fantastic opportunity to discuss openly and honestly about artists and their mental health to help support wellbeing, foster connectivity and provide a culture of support.

In 2018 she presented the panel, ‘An artist’s guide to creative happiness: How to strengthen your creative performance’ at Oz Comic-Con in Brisbane. Her panels are extraordinary opportunities to explore ideas with people who are currently working in the industry. She aims to discuss subjects like individualism, the community, mental health, wellbeing, happiness, creativity, co-creating and self-awareness which often leads to interesting questions from the audience.

What else does she do? Vacen is also a creative workshop facilitator and proficient in, teaching, speaking and concept creation. Guest Speaker. Workshop Presenter. Creative Panel Facilitator. Mentor. Support Worker. Counsellor. Social Welfare Advocate.


The foreshadowing of a dark future threatens the seven nations. Mai is selected to train with the mysterious elemental master Sah Dohba who will prepare her to become the protector of the desert lands.  Her brother Long, steps forward to travel with her as her chaperone to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts.

A chance encounter brings them together with Akra, the Starchild.  The trio travels on into a battle with the elements. Sandstorms. Deadly creatures. Starvation. Then a chance meeting with powerful earthfollower, sets them on a new path where they must each find the strength to face a terrifying foe from the Underworld.

The Age of Akra Cover (1)


This is the beginning of a new children’s fantasy series for children of ages 7+
The cover is exciting with its dragon, suggesting adventure and action. There are 5 in all in this series.
It was first published in 2013 for Australia but now it has broken into the UK market.
The book begins in the land of Sahas with Mai, Akra and Long being the main characters who is the middle child. There’s the familiar child rivalry, especially between sister and younger brother. This is a book about family and adventure. There is excitement and mild trepidation. There is bravery and emotion as different creatures. Always the story is driving forwards and is a great pace to hold attention of children. There is a lot happening in this underworld that is created well by this author.

This book would actually appeal to those children who are into Ninjago and action and adventure heroes from Marvel, as well as those who like giant creatures and exploration in a different land and what does leave a strange taste and a stink? This book would suit girls and boys alike. I reckon it is a good thing it has broken through internationally to the UK market. It read very well and in the style children are used to within the UK and possibly elsewhere in the world.

At the back of the book, after the story there is a glossary that tells readers of the 7 powers and their abilities and of the creatures they meet in the land of Sahas. I think this is pretty smart of the author as children are into this from all the collector card games they play.

I recommend giving this book a try and let’s get children reading again. There is much emphasis on getting children outside, so let’s get children reading from libraries and get them reading in general indoors and outdoors and from there sparks imagination for play both indoors and outdoors.

With thanks to Rachel at Random Things blog and the author Vacen Taylor and the publisher Odyssey Books for providing a signed copy of the book for me to review.

Please note: This is an unbiased review.


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Title: Star Child – Book One – The Age of Akra
Author: Vacen Taylor
Publisher: Odyssey Books
ISBN: 9781922200020


Celebrating The Enduring Love of Roald Dahl for Children and Adults #RoaldDahl #RoaldDahlDay2019 @QuentinBlake #ChapterBooks #TalesoftheUnexpected #Kidslit #Fiction #Humour #Fantasy #Family #Friendship

Celebrating the Enduring Love of Roald Dahl

This is a short article on the enduring love of Roald Dahl. Today is the anniversary of his birthday and what we call Roald Dahl Day.

Roald Dahl Pic

In the Beginning

Roald Dahl was born in 1916 in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales. He wrote from his shed using HB pencils. He wrote for children and adults. His books live on in both book and film form. Sometimes the films are done well and sometimes they are not, that’s always the nature of films however, no matter who the original creator is. Some stories have also been adapted for TV and Radio.

Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day

Schools and libraries across the country tend to celebrate Roald Dahl every 13th September – his birthday. This year’s theme for Roald Dahl Day is Matilda. She is courageous and has a love of reading, even though it means going against her parents and isn’t seen as being trendy. The book is fun and has magic within it, but it is also sweet and gentle with Miss Honey, but then there is a marked contrast between her and Miss Trunchbull, which makes for great characterisation and story-telling.

The Books and Films

RD books

The books feed into children’s desires and imaginations. Take chocolate for example. There is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and what child wouldn’t want to join Charlie Bucket and the eccentric Willy Wonka in a factory that experiments and creates chocolate and sweets, even in this more health conscious society. The follow-up – Charlie and the Great Glass elevator has some adventure and also takes children a little into the political world and what the USA was like at the time Roald Dahl was writing about.
There is magic in The Witches, The Magic Finger and Matilda and family and school life as themes, that also have mild trepidation and villains and heroes. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was made into live action films – two of them.

James and the Giant Peach also has magic and heroes and villains. There is also friendship and adventure and a need for escape as James wants to escape his two gruesome aunts.

There is fun with The Enormous Crocodile that takes children through the jungle meeting different animals and with just enough scariness that children really enjoy when the crocodile wants to eat children.

Fantastic Mr Fox is also about nature and animals, but this time about the need to understand and look after them. It also has a political element, but on a child level about the landscape and fox hunting. This was also made into a CGI film and there was a song I remember learning when I was in primary school for the baby foxes. We acted it out and I was a baby fox.

There is also Daniel, Champion of the World about a boy and his plans. This was made into a live action film

There’s mischief to be had in the Twits and George’s Marvellous medicine. There’s also elements of inventiveness. George’s Marvellous Medicine was used for a Jackanory story on tv.

The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me shows teamwork, friendship and entrepreneurship as they set up their own window cleaning company and there is also some trepidation with a burglary in a grand house.

The BFG with his good dream catching skills befriends Sophie and the two become lovely friends.

Esio-Trot was the last book to be published in Roald Dahl’s lifetime. For those who haven’t worked it out, it is Tortoise spelt backwards.  Esio-Trot tackles loneliness and is about Mr Hopper trying to make a connection with Mrs Silver, who he has loved from afar. This was made into a film for tv.

Boy and Going Solo are both Non-Fiction and tell of Roald Dahl’s life. It may sit generally in the children’s non-fiction area, but really both children and adults will gain fascinating knowledge from them. There was a documentary style programme about them on tv.

Revolting Rhymes is exactly that and has twisted takes on fairy tales. There used to be a tv series also inspired by this with chef Gary Rhodes showing how to make revolting recipes inspired by the book with his assistant – actor, Pam Ferris.

There are books that are not only for children too, although the main emphasis seems to be on children. He also wrote really dark stories for young adults and adults alike that are twisted tales such as Skins and Tales of the Unexpected, which were on TV. Tales of plants that could talk; tattoos that someone wanted and could have straight from another person; tales of sinister bedsits etc.

There are also other books too that have been and are being produced.

Further Facts

Roald Dahl wrote everyday from 10 am to 12 noon and then from 4 pm to 6pm. His first book wasn’t what people imagined it to be – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it was The Gremlins, those furry, cute characters that change when wet and well, aren’t so cute after that.

This was not the end of his talent. He worked with illustrator Quentin Blake (more about him later) and with James Bond creator Ian Fleming and created Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang and worked on the book for the film of this and of James Bond: You Only Live Twice. He and Ian Fleming worked together prior to this during the second world war, providing information for MI6. Roald had also been in battles during the war too. He was with the Royal Air Force (RAF) until 1946.

Roald Dahl had 5 children and married twice. He has a granddaughter still living – Sophie Dahl. 

Roald Dahl died on 23rd November 1990. He was 74 and was suffering with myeldysplastic syndrome (a type of blood disease). He is buried in the cemetery of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. He was buried with some of his favourite things, including: a power saw, HB pencils, chocolate, red wine and his snooker cues.

Inspiration and Importance

Roald Dahl’s stories and screenplays endure as does the love for them. He had a talent for knowing what people like and to be able to us universally broad themes to create magical worlds and fun and adventure. He had a talent to bring about some really dark stories and yet aiming them just right for his target audience. It now also helps that schools and libraries celebrate his life. He is still an important author within this age of computer technology as children and adults read less. Mention Roald Dahl and everyone knows his books, which is a good place to start. Curiosity about authors will hopefully come too as so many have led or do lead such fascinating lives. Roald Dahl is everywhere, in his own work and has inspired other authors and it is seen in their work, such as now there are people like David Walliams and other writers who are similar to him, whom it is evident must have been inspired by Roald Dahl.

Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake Books

Now it wouldn’t be right not to mention Quentin Blake too. He illustrated many of Roald’s books and has many fabulous books of his own creations too that are so full of fun and excellent illustrations. His books are now of many, his most well-known perhaps being Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage.

Children’s Laureate and other Awards

The Children’s Laureate seems to have been around forever, or so it is sometimes assumed, but it wasn’t until 1999 this post was created. Today in 2019, as I write, it is Cressida Cowell. In 1999, the very first Children’s Laureate was Quentin Blake.

He has also received so many awards for his books, including the Whitbred award. He has also been personally recognised and has certainly been living an illustrious life. He was made CBE in 2005, is an RDI and has numerous honorary degrees from universities throughout the UK. He received a knighthood for ‘services to illustration’ in the New Year’s Honours for 2013, and became an Honorary Freeman of the City of London in 2015. It is an impressive career and impressive to be recognised so much for all his work that endures and I am sure will also endure, not just through his collaboration with Roald Dahl, but also the work he has produced himself too, which is quite some body of work indeed as he has always worked in illustration and even illustrated for Punch magazine.

An Additional Career

Quentin also has another career. He works as a curator for exhibitions in well-known famous places – the National Gallery, the British Library and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris. In the last few years he has begun to make larger-scale work for hospitals and healthcare settings in the UK and France where his work can be seen in wards and public spaces.

In Conclusion

So, two great men who inspire and whose work will, I am sure will continue to for generations to come with libraries and schools and parents and children all playing their part. There books I am sure will always be somewhere in bookshops, on library shelves and hopefully also in the hands of readers. I am also sure that they will be inspiring other current and future authors for years to come.


Review of The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland #JustinNewland @matadorbooks #LoveBooksTours #fantasy #review #Fiction #Newbook #history #historical

The Old Dragon’s Head
By Justin Newland
Rated: 4 Stars ****

Today I have the pleasure of closing the blog tour for Love Books Tours with my review for the book The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland. There have been reviews and extracts that can be found online, including the review I am presenting to you today. It was with honour that I received a signed copy of the book and accompanying bookmark. Please note, my review is impartial.

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About the Author

Justin Newland with copies of his books, at Waterstones book store.After a long career in I.T., Justin’s love of literature finally seduced him and, in 2006, he found his way to the creative keyboard to write his first novel.

Justin writes secret histories in which historical events and people are guided and motivated by numinous and supernatural forces.

His debut novel, The Genes of Isis, is a tale of love, destruction, and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt, and which tells the secret history of the human race, Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

His second is The Old Dragon’s Head, a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of our times.  

He is currently working on a novel set in East Prussia during the Enlightenment in the 18th Century which reveals the secret history of perhaps the single most important event of the modern world – The Industrial Revolution.

Justin does books signings and gives author talks in libraries in South West England. He has appeared at many Literary Festivals, including Bristol, Weston-super-mare and Exeter. He regularly gives interviews on BBC local radio and local FM radio stations.


The Old Dragon's Head CoveerConstructed of stone and packed earth, the Great Wall of 10,000 li protects China’s northern borders from the threat of Mongol incursion. The wall is also home to a supernatural beast: the Old Dragon. The Old Dragon’s Head is the most easterly point of the wall, where it finally meets the sea.

In every era, a Dragon Master is born. Endowed with the powers of Heaven, only he can summon the Old Dragon so long as he possess the dragon pearl.

It’s the year 1400, and neither the Old Dragon, the dragon pearl, nor the Dragon Master, has been seen for twenty years. Bolin, a young man working on the Old Dragon’s Head, suffers visions of ghosts. Folk believe he has yin-yang eyes and other paranormal gifts.When Bolin’s fief lord, the Prince of Yan, rebels against his nephew, the Jianwen Emperor, a bitter war of succession ensues in which the Mongols hold the balance of power. While the victor might win the battle on earth, China’s Dragon Throne can only be earned with a Mandate from Heaven – and the support of the Old Dragon.

Bolin embarks on a journey of self-discovery, mirroring Old China’s endeavour to come of age. When Bolin accepts his destiny as the Dragon Master, Heaven sends a third coming of age – for humanity itself. But are any of them ready for what is rising in the east?


Firstly I love the quotes that are throughout the book at the top of the chapters. I have in general come to like books that have quotes. I think it is the way they are so intelligently used. They are not just used because they sound good, they really fit the story and Justin Newland has also managed to accomplish this well.

This is not just any fantasy book, this is a fantasy with history, murder, mystery, legend, myth and of course the supernatural. There are villains and heroes and action and adventure. All of this works well together to create a fascinating story. It is fascinating to be transported to Chinese culture in this way.

Bolin (main character) and we meet him with Wen who is the maintainer of the most eastern end of the Great Wall of Ten Thousand Li, a Provence in China. It is home to the old Dragon Laolong and they are standing on the Dragon’s Head – the Laolongtou. The wall also belongs to the military, the Monks and the Great Wall Mummers and Wen, especially is fiercely protective of it. I became quickly interested in the wall and where this book was heading. There’s a quest to follow to find out what happened to the Dragon Master and a pearl and action along the way. I liked meeting the variety of characters within this book and getting to know their roles and desires. I liked that the book concluded well.

I wasn’t so sure at first how much potential this book had to be a good one, but once a few pages in, it really is quite some story and I found myself immersed in the world created by Justin Newland. I was impressed by the fact there is a grounding to this world he has crafted, perhaps because the Wall of China is so familiar, but also the way the characters are written. If you are looking for something new within the fantasy world I definitely say try this one out. Even if you aren’t so sure about fantasy, try the book out because this crosses genres and does it very well. I think this is a fantasy author who is worth reading and watching to see what his next creation will be. I felt Justin Newland had done his research and the book feels quite original for this genre.

Below are links to the author’s website and Facebook page.

Review of The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris @Joannechocolat @BHHillustration @gollancz @orionbooks @TheWrite_Reads #JoanneHarris #YA #Fiction #Review

The Blue Salt Road
By Joanne M. Harris
Rating: *****

About the Author

Joanne Harris MBE, writes under both this name and Joanne M. Harris and lives in Yorkshire. Her books have been published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. This year she celebrates  20 years since Chocolat was first published in the UK. As well as writing books, she also writes stories that she performs to music with her band – Storytime. She plays a bass guitar and studies Old Norse. She also campaigns for libraries and author’s rights.

The Blue Salt Road Joanne Harris


Passion drew him into a new world and trickery has kept him there.

But as he finds his path in a dangerous life, he will learn his notions of home, and of his people, might not be quite as he believed.

Illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is an original modern fairytale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas and drama on the land.


I was fortunate enough to recieve this book as a Christmas present this year. The person who bought it for me knew I was interested in this book and that I have long enjoyed books by Joanne Harris. This book is rather different from my usual reads, but then that’s the beauty of books, they are easily accessible to try something new and to further expand the repertoire and discover something new. Even if a bit of fantasy is not your usual type of book, this book is relatable to and is worth exploring and in my review, you will see why and also you can see what else Joanne Harris writes, as she has written about every genre there is, which is impressive! Over the years I have come to admire her for many different reasons.

A modern fairytale that is nicely split into 7 parts, each beginning with appropriate verse from the Child Ballads. I had not heard of the Child Ballads before, but that’s the thing with even fiction books, there’s always something to take away with you or there’s some new nugget that readers have learnt about. This is a tale for young adults and adults alike, after all, fairytales were originally meant for adults. It is beautifully illustrated in black and white by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, who also illustrated A Pocket Full of Crows. The detailing is exquisite to say the least with each drawing matching the text very well. Be sure to look just inside the cover too.

The prologue is definitely very interesting and informative as it’s where it is learnt where the story comes from and are invited to take what we need from it and pass the story on. The way it is written is the beginning of being of  the enchantment of this book. It is about a Selkie. For those who don’t know a Selkie is a mythical creature that resembles a seal in the water but assumes human form on land.

Right from the first chapter the tale sweeps you along in its imagery of the islands as we meet the Grey Seal Clan, more precisely a young man of the clan who likes to hear tales of the Folk, who they live alongside, but there are warnings within those tales he is told to heed about the Folk. Despite warnings to take caution, he likes to observe the Folk. The Folk represent humans and are seen as only being concerned about their boats and harpoons. It is so thought-provoking and with such emotion and with such powerful beauty of the setting, there’s much to take in, but it is far from arduous. It’s a book that fits so well for today’s reading audience and is so relevant and it strikes a chord.

Mostly there are no named characters, except for Flora McCraiceann – one of the Folk, a determined young woman who wants to find a man of her own, and not necessarily one from the island. Down by the sea, there lies a bit of a love story. What love, but what pain can accompany it for both a Folk and a Selkie and what choices they must make, that impacts on their lives and the heart and the dreams don’t always match up and there are lost memories of a past life. It’s all beautifully and tenderly written with vast emotion and even though it is a fairytale, there is a grounding of realism within the book, which is relatable to.

We see the contrast between the Selkies and the Folk. The folk and all their weaponry, shows a darker side of this book, a more predatory, realism way that they had, compared to the magical power the Selkie has for readers and far different from the romanticism of them. The dark turn brings a sadness to this book as there’s a realisation of betrayal. It is all such a rivetting read and I found myself almost mesmerised and being pulled along like the waves of the sea. It’s so incredibly well written, it’s such a joy to read.

Throughout the book there is a Kraken, which is so well depicted to tell this story and is great for the imagination, but is written in a way that will be familiar to readers.

This fairytale, twists and turns as it begins to plunge into a tale of revenge later in the book. There is much that will keep readers wanting to turn the pages to see how it all concludes.

This book, although, not my usual genre, is a mythical masterpiece and really took me by surprise. So, I highly recommend this book, even to those who don’t normally read this genre.

Joanne Harris has been enjoying success and working hard on her writing for decades now. There are so many series and all of which I recommend. I have been reading her books for all those years and intend on continuing to do so.

I would like to thank Joanne for all the times I have met her, mostly at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and once at Aye Write in Glasgow and the other in Harrogate at the Raworth’s Literature Festival there. Each time has been a joy. Joanne Harris was the first author I met, when I came to know that authors could be met and signed books. No longer was it a bucket list dream, it became a lovely reality.

Gothic Novels: Sleep Pale Sister, The Evil Seed

Chocolat Series: Chocolat (adapted into an Oscar nominated film),
The Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure  The Strawberry Thief will be released 4th April 2019.

 Novels Set in France: Blackberry Wine, Coastliners,
Five Quarters of the Orange, Holy Fools

Malbry Novels: Gentlemen and Players, BlueEyedBoy, Different Class

Short Stories: Jigs and Reels, A Cat, A Hat and A Piece of String

Cookery: The French Kitchen, The French Market, The Little Book of Chocolate

Books written as Joanne M. Harris:
Norse Books: Runemarks, Runelight, The Gospel of Loki, The Testament of Loki
Folklore- inspired novellas: A Pocket Full of Crows, The Blue Salt Road

She has featured in many books such as Doctor Who, Dead Letters,
Fearie Tales, Paris to name but a few.


Joanne Harris pile of books

*Please note: This is an impartial review.

Title: The Blue Salt Road
Author: Joanne M. Harris
Illustrator: Bonnie Helen Hawkins
Publisher: Gollancz – an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group LTD
ISBN: Hardback: 978 1 473 22221 2    E-Book: 978 1 473 22223 6
Main Points of Purchase: Available widely in bookshops, libraries and Amazon.