Books I bought at Somerset 2017…

Here are the reviews I did of a couple of books I bought at Somerset Literary Festival this year. I’ll post a couple more tomorrow. Yes, they are Young Adults books.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar17

Starlight Stables – Pony detectives by Soraya Nicholas

Soraya NicholasThis is the first book I bought at Somerset Celebration of Literature 2017! My granddaughters are mad on horses. Not having had anything to do with horses myself, I have to say it appears to me that horses are a lot of work, and each one has a different personality just as their riders do.

I loved this story about Poppy the twelve-year-old who was visiting her Aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark, who run Starlight Stables. Having had a very difficult year with her mum and brother having to move away with the tragedy of losing her father, her trip is to help her be a kid and just go riding.Starlight Stables Pony Detectives Soraya N

Poppy gets the best present she could wish for, her own horse Crystal a Welsh/Arab. The surprises don’t stop there, they introduce her to two new girls who will be working and riding with her helping clean the stables. Millie and Katie quickly become best friends and like Poppy, they have been given the opportunity to have their own horses at the stables to trail ride whenever they want to, in exchange for work and help around the stables. Milly gets to ride Joe who is three-quarters Arab with a mischievous nature, which Poppy discovers suits his rider. Then Katie gets Cody a palomino. The riding lessons commence immediately and the girls learn a lot from dressage riding champion Sophie.

When the girls hear about horses being stolen in the area they decide to find them. That’s when the trouble begins. If they go to investigate they may lose all their privileges and be sent back home. They may even have their horses taken away. The three headstrong girls set out to find the missing horses.

I enjoyed the easy flowing style of Soraya’s writing showing the details of riding, sitting in the saddle and different types of events to train for while pushing the story forward.

Book Review By Jill Smith©April17

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

ophelia-and-the-marvellous-boy coverI love the cover of this book, that’s why I bought it.

The story is as surprising as The Marvelous Boy and the heroine Ophelia. She is small for her age, constantly asking questions and looking at everything from a scientific viewpoint. That hardly works when she makes friends with the boy sent by Wizards to save the world. Everything he tells her about the Snow Queen and magic is unbelievable. She confronts her fears and collects the keys while searching for the boy’s magical sword.

I particularly loved that she didn’t believe in ghosts and is still grieving the loss of her mother when her mother is there, at her shoulder and in her ear, helping her along the way. In a modern world of machines and facts, this is a delightful step into a possible other-world, all very cold and miserable that could be overcome by The Snow Queen. The museum her father works in has very strange exhibits, many who were in fact, the Snow Queens army.

The ending is fitting and a true love conquers all scenario!

I hadn’t been to see Karen Foxlee during sessions at Somerset, however, I did get her to sign the book. (That’s another perk of going to see talented writers at a writing festival.) 

Somerset 2017 – Wonderful Wednesday summary …

Yes, it rained and the ground was squelchy! Yes, it was hot in the marquees! Did I mind? Not a bit. It was a great day. I only wish I had been able to go to more sessions.

Robet Newton Somerset 2017I started the day with Robert Newton, a firefighter and writer who said he could see himself retiring from firefighting but never from writing.

He never wanted to be a writer growing up but when his brother moved overseas he wanted to keep in touch so he started writing letters. Life was a bit boring so he’d send stories of embellished childhood memories. His brother said, ‘these are good, you should do something with them.’ That was the only encouragement he’d ever had for anything other than sport. It was the start of his obsession with writing and creating characters first. His books published to date are: RunnerWhen We Were TwoThe Black Dog GangSaturday Morning, Mozart and Burnt ToastMr Romanov’s Garden in the SkyThe Khaki KidMy Name Is Will Thompson, for children all developed to tackle difficult subjects in a way kids can relate to. He was a very engaging speaker. The picture above is of him signing the book I purchased from his works.

Nadia Sunde Sorting Hat Somerst 2017Next session was in the Great Hall and I was able to enjoy the oh’s and ah’s of a large audience of rapt students as Nadia Sunde wove a magical spell in her session playing the role of Professor Francesa Falconette Exploring the Magical World of Harry Potter.

Needless to say, it was a spellbinding session.

Nadia Sunde Somerset 2017The rain departed for enough time for me to leave the Great Hall and walk down on the sodden oval to Marquee Three to go to my next session with Kim Kane.

 

Kim, having being trained as a lawyer, had all her notes on hand. A few images and videos to share Kim Kane Somerset 2017snippets of where her inspiration for stories came from, along with a very old shoe. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about ‘time slip’ novels and how she researched her books. I fear some of the students may not have been so engrossed, but for me, Kim delving into research and where different information led her and affected her writing was fascinating.

As was the case in all the sessions, and has been my experience of Somerset Celebration of Literature that I’ve experienced over the years, the children as the best questions.

Rachael Craw goodreads bio picThe next session was after a lunch break and back in Marquee Three this time to see Rachel Craw. She did delve into the writing process itself. She loves strong female characters and found her first book huge and unwieldy, only being reshaped when she was encouraged by manuscript assessors, who later became editors and then her agent. The result is a series starting with Spark (Spark, #1)Stray (Spark, #2)Shield (Spark, #3)Kill Switch (Spark, #1.1)The Book That Made Me as one of the anthology contributors, Black Room (Spark, #2.1)Scar Tissue (Spark, #3.1). She has trouble letting go of a story and tends to keep editing until the book is forcibly taken from her by her agent. Her stories are coming of age tales with strong drama. I hope to read the whole series in the future.

From then I hurried onto Marquee One to see Soraya Nicholas who writeSoraya Nicholass stories for
younger children about horses in her ‘Starlight Stables’ series. I was particularly interested to hear what she had to say as my granddaughters are mad about horses. I was as surprised as she was when her grade three little people audience were led in to hear her talk. Soraya had pictures of her horses and explained how her covers were photos of three girls and three horses depicting her characters. She loves writing and to keep the image of the characters and personalities of her horses in mind she has a wall of pictures beside her when she writes.

Her books are Pony DetectivesBush Bolts,  Starlight Stables: Bush Bolts (Book 3) Starlight Stables: Saving Starlight (Book 4)Gymkana Hijinks, and Saving Starlight

I bought five books on the day and I’m nearly finished reading ‘Starlight Stables’ Pony Detectives.  I will give this to my granddaughter shortly after I’ve written a review.

That was all the sessions I attended on the day, however, I met and spoke to other authors when in the book tent, or just at the coffee shop. I bought one book because I liked the cover – Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee. I took the opportunity to get the author of that book to sign it too, that was another treat.