A Skinful of Shadows - blog post image

A Skinful of Shadows

This is the story of a bear-hearted girl . . .

Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide.

Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding.

Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard.

And now there's a spirit inside her.

The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father's rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret.

But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death."

My Thoughts

If I had my way every child in the world would have the opportunity to read A Skinful of Shadows as well as Frances Hardinge’s earlier novel, The Lie Tree. I implore you to wrap up A Skinful of Shadows and pop it under the Christmas tree for anybody between the ages of about 12-16 or order it from the library as an absorbing fabulous holiday read for kids to curl up with over the winter holidays.

A Skinful of Shadows is a captivating story and Hardinge’s prose seethes with atmosphere. There isn’t a scene or a character that you can’t smell, hear and feel beneath your skin. An incredible achievement.

Twelve year old Makepeace is an exquisitely drawn heroine and the perfect protagonist for this challenging tale. She is feisty and strong in a quiet, realistic and reassuring sort of way and she carries the reader along with her and her ghosts like a whirlwind.

I’d heard the A Skinful of Shadows was a ghost story, a genre I’m not overly keen on, and only my huge enjoyment of the Lie Tree led me to take the leap of faith and buy it - I am very glad that I did. Yes, it is a ghost story of sorts but don’t let that put you off, it’s like nothing you’ve ever read before.

I listened to the audio book which was gripping and beautifully performed by Tuppence Middleton.


A Word With Kate Frost - blog post image

A Word With Kate Frost

Kate and I have not met but I feel like I know her - we are members of the same fantastic Facebook group (Book Connectors), she lives in Bristol which is near where I come from and, like me, she writes adult and children's fiction.  I recently reviewed Kate's novel Time Shifters Into The Past and a few people have got in touch to say they are going to read it.  If you haven't read the review you can read it here and if you scroll to the end of the interview you'll find details of Kate's Time Shifters Club with a fun freebie for those who sign up. 

Ronaldo The Flying Reindeer - blog post image

Ronaldo The Flying Reindeer

Ronaldo is the top flying cadet at the prestigious Reindeer Flying Academy. He dreams of getting his flying license, just like his hero, Vixen.  

The Lost Words - blog post image

The Lost Words

From Acorn to Weasel, a gorgeous, hand-illustrated, large-format spellbook celebrating the magic and wonder of the natural world

All over the country, there are words disappearing from children's lives. Words like Dandelion, Otter, Bramble, Acorn and Lark represent the natural world of childhood, a rich landscape of discovery and imagination that is fading from children's minds.

The Lost Words stands against the disappearance of wild childhood. It is a joyful celebration of the poetry of nature words and the living glory of our distinctive, British countryside. With acrostic spell-poems by peerless wordsmith Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustrations by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the irreplaceable magic of language and nature for all ages.

My Thoughts

Ten years ago the Oxford Junior Dictionary introduced new words such as “broadband” while others including acorn, adder and bluebell disappeared.Apparently the dictionary’s guidelines require that it reflect “the current frequency of words in daily language of children”

Unsurprisingly, there was a groundswell of opposition to the word cull and the result was this beautiful book. It's published by Penguin and it’s a work of art, an exquisitely beautiful celebration of the lost words including hand painted illustrations by Jackie Morris interspersed with acrostic poems by Robert MacFarlane. A real keeper for readers of all ages.

A proportion of the royalties from each copy of The Lost Words goes to Action for Conservation, a charity dedicated to inspiring your people to take action for the natural world



The Secret of Nightingale Wood - blog post image

The Secret of Nightingale Wood

Henry has moved to the countryside with her parents and her baby sister, Piglet – all still scarred by the death of her brother. Alone in her head, she begins to explore her surroundings, encouraged by her only friends – characters from her favourite books.  


Very excited to learn that our publisher ...

has just received a big order from the US for Riverside Lane,  the adult cozy-mystery I co-wrote under the pen name Ginger Black.  The novel is set in and around Windsor so we're wondering if this might be The Royal Wedding effect!