waiting on wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday: A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood


Synopsis (from Scholastic): 

Growing up in her sleepy Cornish village dreaming of being a writer, sixteen-year-old Lou has always wondered about the grand Cardew house which has stood empty for years. And when the owners arrive for the summer – a handsome, dashing brother and sister – Lou is quite swept off her feet and into a world of moonlit cocktail parties and glamour beyond her wildest dreams. But, as she grows closer to the Cardews, is she abandoning her own ambitions… and is there something darker lurking at the heart of the Cardew family? A gorgeously dreamy coming-of-age romance set against a stunning Gatsby-esque backdrop, this is perfect for fans of I Capture the Castle and Eva Ibbotson.birdWhy I can’t Wait to read A Sky Painted Gold:

This sounds very Daphne Du Maurier. Big house mysteries were a core part of my diet as a teenager. I loved the blend of history, romance and mystery which the big house setting lends itself to, as well as the themes of social change and prejudice. 

Lou is a writer who appears to have conflict about her ambitions. It can be difficult to tell people your life’s ambition is to write a novel. People often think arts come fully-formed. Either you have the ability to write a novel already or you never will have. I’m looking forward to seeing a book which explores the conflicts faced by aspiring writers. 

I want to know whether there is something sinister about the Cardews. I enjoyed The Wren Hunt where a similar question was posed about a magical faction and the answer was more complex than I guessed from the outset. I love novels which make us question people’s motives.

Let’s face it – we all love cocktail parties and moonlit meetings on private beaches. We never learn. We’re all dreaming of Manderley.

Laura Wood is the author of the Poppy Pym series. Poppy Pym is a middle grade mystery series about a circus girl who finds herself in a boarding school. With four books in the series so far, Laura Wood has significant experience of writing mysteries. 


A Sky Painted Gold

Scholastic UK

July 2018

waiting on wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday: The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi

beastplayerbannerSynopsis (from Pushkin Press): 

getimage-824Elin’s family have an important responsibility: caring for the fearsome water serpents that form the core of their kingdom’s army. So when some of the beasts mysteriously die, Elin’s mother is sentenced to death as punishment. With her last breath she manages to send her daughter to safety.

Alone, far from home, Elin soon discovers that she can talk to both the terrifying water serpents and the majestic flying beasts that guard her queen. This skill gives her great powers, but it also involves her in deadly plots that could cost her life. Can she save herself and prevent her beloved beasts from being used as tools of war? Or must she face the terrible battles to come?bird

Why I can’t wait to read The Beast Player:

  • The beast magic reminds me of the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb. This was a real favourite in my teens and the main reason I loved it was the bond between the protagonist and his animals.
  • ‘Can she prevent her beloved beasts from being used as tools of war?’ Too many humans mistreat or misunderstand animal intelligence and I think this is an important theme for any book which centres around animals. Good fantasy says something about the real world.
  • Stakes. Elin’s mother is sent to die. The first thing I want to know is whether Elin can save her mother. Possibly we will find out straight away whether or not she survives, but if we don’t know the answer I will definitely turn the pages. 
  • This is a story of battles and wars. It sounds like something is majorly up if someone is in control of a serpent army. I want to know who is at the helm and what their agenda is, and I want to see Elin defeat them with her gift. 
  • Fantastic beasts! Regular readers know I am a huge fan of the Fantastic Beasts franchise. In actual fact I love all mythological animals from talking Beavers to Snow Dragons. 



waiting on wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday: Sal by Mick Kitson


Synopsis (from GoodReads): 

34215676Sal planned it for almost a year before they ran. She nicked an Ordnance Survey map from the school library. She bought a compass, a Bear Grylls knife, waterproofs and a first aid kit from Amazon using credit cards she’d robbed. She read the SAS Survival Handbook and watched loads of YouTube videos.

And now Sal knows a lot of stuff. Like how to build a shelter and start a fire. How to estimate distances, snare rabbits and shoot an airgun. And how to protect her sister, Peppa. Because Peppa is ten, which is how old Sal was when Robert started on her.

Told in Sal’s distinctive voice, and filled with the silent, dizzying beauty of rural Scotland, Sal is a disturbing, uplifting story of survival, of the kindness of strangers, and the irrepressible power of sisterly love; a love that can lead us to do extraordinary and unimaginable things.birdWhy I can’t wait to read Sal:

I’ve featured a lot of books in Waiting on Wednesday which fit right inside my comfort zone. In some ways this book isn’t exactly what I would chose. It is about a pair of sisters escaping abusive family. I’m not mad-keen on gritty urban reality. But that is where Sal looks special. It tackles a difficult topic side-on. It begins after the sisters run away. The rural setting and survival narrative look perfect for me, and I will hear about these different life experiences without feeling like a fly-on-the-wall to horrible scenes.


The agent website gives me the impression this is about girls who need to stop surviving and start living. I want to know how long they will stay in their tent in the wilderness, and what will draw them back into everyday life. 


I love castaway stories, and this doesn’t sound too dissimilar. It is about survival skills and isolation and learning to fight for oneself. This sounds metaphorical of the girls’ situation, and that intrigues me. 


It sounds as if Sal will do anything for Peppa. The result is I want things to turn out well for Sal. Whatever Sal gets wrong, her heart is in the right place and I am ready to follow her and rooting for things to turn out right. 


Sal by Mick Kitson

Canongate Books Ltd

March 2018


NB. I received a copy of Sal from the publisher. The same thing happened last week, and I think it may happen occasionally as I now receive some ARCs. Waiting on Wednesday is always written prior to reading or perusing the books, and the thoughts are entirely my own.

waiting on wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday – The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

36697848Synopsis (from Simon and Schuster)

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.bird

Why I can’t wait to read The Wicked Deep:

  • This has everything I am interested in – fantasy, feminsim, folklore and the relationship between place and story. This sounds a little like some of Penelope Lively’s work, where outsiders try to establish the truth in old traditions and end the damage they cause. 


  • Sirens. *Whispers* – I have sirens in my recent writing. There is so much in siren stories which lends itself to feminist narratives, and there are fewer sirens already in YA fiction than merpeople. The idea of the annual curse blew my mind away. What a fantastic way to make sirens believable in a modern-day setting. 


  • ‘Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town’ … this sounds like a narrative challenge, and I am interested to know how Penny’s relationship with Bo changes her feelings about the town. Sometimes it takes a new person or experience to open our eyes.


  • ‘Mistrust and lies’ – the nature of truth is an important theme in the current climate, where nobody is certain to whether they are reading truth or misinformation. A small town with its own traditions is a brilliant setting to explore this theme. I can imagine lots of characters unwilling to give up beliefs they have learned from a young age. 


The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

Simon and Schuster Children’s UK

March 2018


Note – I am lucky enough to have an advanced copy of The Wicked Deep, so I won’t be waiting long! I wrote this prior to reading my copy.






waiting on wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday – Nobody Real by Steven Camden

51lzr5slielSynopsis (from HarperCollins):

Marcie is at a crossroads.

Finished with school, but unsure what she wants to do next. Abandoned by her mother when she was tiny – but drifting further and further from her dad.

Marcie is real. With real problems.

Thor is at a crossroads too.

Soon, if he doesn’t make a decision, he’s gong to face the fade. Years ago, he was Marcie’s imaginary friend – then she cast him out, back to his own world.

Thor is not real. And that’s a real problem…

But Marcie and Thor need each other. And to fix their lives, they’re going to have to destroy everything… and then build a new world.birdWhy I can’t wait to read Nobody Real:

  • Imaginary Friends are so interesting – from Imaginaries by AF Harold, and The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson, imaginary friends have appeared in some fantastic scenarios in Middle Grade fiction. They rarely appear in YA, and I am pleased to see this challenged. Teens might have outgrown their imaginary friends, but that doesn’t make their reappearance dull. If anything, it makes me wonder why the character needs their old friend. It grabs my interest. 


  • The agent website references ‘the imaginary word’. I love stories where a fictional or imaginary world turns out to be real. They are often about the role of imagination within our lives, or the relationship between stories and life. 


  • Contemporary YA is not my comfort-zone, but add a hint of fantasy and it becomes intriguing. I love worlds which are almost ordinary, but have a hint of magic around the edges. David Almond and Amy Wilson do this well, and Out Of The Blue by Sophie Cameron is another great example. 


  • Why did Marcie ‘cast Thor Out’? It doesn’t sound like she outgrew him, it sounds like there is some interesting backstory. I want to know the relationship between what happened at that moment and the pair’s present situation. 

Nobody Real by Steven Camden


May 2018

waiting on wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday: The Goose Road by Rowena House

bannergooseroadwowSynopsis [from Walker Books]:

dsdal0cx4aigff0France 1916. Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. “I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won’t change either.” But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears… In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother’s flock of magnificent Toulouse geese.birdWhy I can’t wait to read The Goose Road:

  • I live near the Solway Firth. For six months of the year, we share the land with both pink-footed and barnacle geese. They fly over my home twice a day in great formations. We hear them before we see them. I go to the window every time. Geese are part of my life and landscape, and I understand how their presence can form a special part of a life. I want the book for this reason alone.


  • The mixture of WW1 history, family story and agriculture sounds like Morpurgo’s work, and it is a combination I can’t read too many times. It is the story of who we were not so long ago, and it is the closest to hearing our great-grandparents’ voices most of us will come. These are stories we have heard recycled, but never first-hand. A fictional voice helps us to relate to history.


  • The history of the home front is as interesting as the war itself. This is where life went on against the odds. There are stories of courage and survival here as much as there are on the battlefield. 


  • Conflict: the character vows to hold on to the farm until her brother returns. Immediately the narrative offers a challenge. Will Angélique’s brother return? I know I’ll hold my breath until the last pages to find out. 


The Goose Road by Rowena House

Walker Books UK

April 2018


waiting on wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday The Cloak Of Feathers by Nigel Quinlan


51ipepx0kplEvery hundred years, in the magical town of Knowmealldown, fairies known as the Good Folk join the villagers for a Great Festival. It’s a raucous, beautiful, enchanted celebration.
Well, it’s supposed to be.
Except every time Brian helps to organise the Great Festival it’s a disappointment. Worse, this time the Folk Princess has been stolen. Can Brian thwart the Princess’s evil captor in time to avoid the wrath of the Folk King and Queen, and finally deliver a Festival to remember?bird

Why I can’t wait for The Cloak Of Feathers:

  • It gets hard to tell you in new words how folk legends have built my imagination. A princess captured by evil forces? The wrath of the faerie King? We’re in familiar territory … except, it has a modern face. It is lovely to see folk traditions and stories having a revival in 2018, and this looks like a great take on the interactions between faerie and human realms.


  • Why is Brian unable to organise a successful festival? Does it have anything to do with the faeries, or his family’s past? I can’t wait to hear the backstory. Is he cursed, or does he just believe he is? 


  • Oh that cover. I am a huge fan of Feather Boy by Nicky Singer, where a boy makes a coat from feathers as part of a school-project based on fairy tales. I have dreamed about that coat every day since I read Feather Boy. It is lovely to see another feather coat, and I can’t wait to hear the story behind it. 


  • ‘I told them I’d fetch the stupid cow’. I’ve read the first chapter, and love how it sent up the organisation of local events. Nigel Quinlan is clearly observant of people and how we behave when we work together. Think The Vicar Of Dibley, except this time it is the Junior Action (cow fetching) Sub Group. I love it already. 


The Cloak Of Feathers by Nigel Quinlan 

Orion Children’s Books

January 2018