This is the first book I’ve read from Chantelle Atkins and I loved it. I’m amazed that this is her debut novel, it was that good.
It is an emotional, character driven tale about a sixteen-year-old girl coping with the difficulties of being a teenager and living within a broken family (her mother is separated from Lou’s father and is in a new relationship.)
Lou doesn’t want to be that overlooked, overweight girl anymore. The passages about her not wanting to eat are powerful and frightening to read.
The Mess of Me is also a tale of friendship, of love, mothers, daughters, parents and sons. There are many hard hitting topics throughout including escalating family violence, alcohol and drug use, drug trafficking, self harm, and cries for help but these subjects are handled with great sensitivity. The dialogues are sprinkled with wonderful teenage banter to add touches of humour to lighten the narrative.
My two favourite characters were Lou and her best friend Joe who she’s known forever… since she was a baby! Marianne, and Joe’s older brothers Travis and Leon were also well written as were all the adults in the book. Perhaps the only character I felt less connection to was Sara, Lou’s older sister.
Life can be confusing and awkward for teenagers but this also applies to adults too! I loved how The Mess of Me conveyed our vulnerability, our frailness, how making mistakes and bad choices can have a huge impact on our lives and the lives of those we love. Sometimes parents get it spectacularly wrong and The Mess of Me does a fantastic job of portraying that flip side too.
There are many wonderful scenes with Lou and her mum chatting, drawing closer together, beginning to understand each other. I was so touched by these, having two daughters myself, remembering those teenage angst flare ups made me cry. As a parent all you want is for your children to be happy, safe and well and when that is threatened the fear and helplessness is immense. I don’t want to go in too much detail for fear of spoiling the book for you but The Mess of Me portrayed that fear and hopelessness so well.
After finishing The Mess of Me I was left with a sense of hope rising up from this dark tale. I enjoyed it on so many levels.
I will definitely read more from this author. One of my favourite books of 2021.
Highly recommended – 5 stars.
I will be interviewing Chantelle about Chasing Driftwood – her creative writing group soon.
I’m pleased to welcome Jemima Pett to my blog today to celebrate the launch of Princelings Revolution.
Princelings Revolution is out today! The day has finally come for the last in Jemima Pett’s Princelings of the East series. She started writing it in the dim dark days of 2008, thanks to inspiration from some guinea pig friends. Today’s post has an extract and a Giveaway, so there’s a lot of reading!
In 2008 it was just a trilogy. But the characters wouldn’t accept their fate and demanded more. And so the saga of the Realms wound its way from south to north, and even into Germany before returning to the east.
The Princelings of the East
The Princelings and the Pirates
The Princelings and the Lost City
The Traveler in Black and White
The Talent Seekers
Willoughby the Narrator
The Princelings of the North
Chronicles of Marsh
Jasmine’s birthday party ends in disaster. George seems to have lost a phial of highly dangerous liquid. And King Fred is battling politics, relatives and self-serving dignitaries in his aim to give the people a better way of living.
But can Fred keep the promise he made to an engaging chap from another time when he was just a princeling? Or will all their hopes fail?
Jemima’s favourite quotes from the book
“Hector, in charge? Couldn’t lead a file of caterpillars, that one!”
The way Jasmine said it made Fred raise an eyebrow. It was exactly how Kira said it when she wanted to say something privately.
“The usual suspects are people we know. I reckon these are people we don’t know. And who don’t know us.”
“Oh.” George considered all the other uses he had found for it. This was not a good one. “It’s called duct tape,” he said.
About the series
Ten books take us from 2009 through to 2021, with a prequel at Book 4, explained from Lord Mariusz’s point of view. The feudal structure of the Realms, the changes wrought by new technology, largely promoted by Princeling George, Fred’s brother. The demise of paranormal creatures, thanks to George’s use of garlic in the fuel cells; the rise of an anti-monarchist group called the Causists, and the resilience of characters great and small, trying to keep their pleasant and friendly society together in the face of so-called freedom fighters. One simple book at a time creates a world of change that will be somewhat familiar to every reader on today’s uncertain planet.
Suitable for good readers 8 years and up, although some parental guidance may occasionally be needed. Generally listed as age 10 and up.
The first three books in the series are also available as Audiobooks
About the author
Jemima Pett started writing stories when she was eight. By ten she was designing fantasy islands, complete with maps and railways timetables. There was no call for fantasy island designers then, so she took the science route through university and went into a business career, then retrained for environmental technology. Once in a policy research organisation she started writing again, reports, papers and briefings. She didn’t believe she could write fiction until her guinea pigs came along, and inspired her to write The Princelings of the East. Now she enjoys writing short stories and science fiction novels, and has been published by Third Flatiron Press, among others. She lives in Hampshire with Roscoe, Neville and Biggles, who all appear in Princelings Revolution.
Jemima is on Twitter…. Amazon…. Goodreads…. Facebook…. Website
Entries close at 11.59 23rd October, New York time. Open for entries in all countries and states where this type of raffle is legal. Some additional entry options may be added: please check back if this is important to you.
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I’m pleased to announce that my YA Fantasy The Curse of Time #1 Bloodstone will be on free kindle promotion for three days from 30th June!!!
Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger. With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.
“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)
The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone
Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.
With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.
Also, Mr. Sagittarius, my poetry and prose collection is being featured over at Literary Lightbox in the category Inspiration. Here’s the link:
Thank you to James Cudney for this review of my YA fantasy. I featured James recently on my blog. He is a great supporter of the indie community. Please pop over to his blog to read his book review at source.
Welcome to Chantelle Atkins, my next guest on my new feature – Isolation for Writers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Chantelle Atkins coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is her answer:
What’s Changed For Me? Nothing and Everything
The outbreak of Covid19 and the lockdown that followed has had a huge impact on us all, but as a writer, I feel in a unique position to observe, absorb and reflect on the changes for me personally and on the society around me.
What’s changed for me? Nothing and everything and believe me, that’s as confusing as it sounds. The confusion and anxiety tend to hit me hard in the evening, when my parenting duties are over, and I sit down to write. I’m not ashamed to admit I am often now writing through fits of tears. It’s just such a strange, sad, scary, hopeful and heroic time. You can’t help but be affected by it.
On the surface, lots has changed for me. I have four children aged between 5 and 17 and they were previously all in full-time education. I run a writing-based business called Chasing Driftwood Writing Group and my time is normally spent running after school writing clubs, writing clubs for home educated children and writing clubs for adults. 2020 started off so well for me, with the addition of three new clubs. I really felt like my little business was growing and succeeding.
When the schools closed, so did the libraries, community halls and museums and just like that, I had no work and no income. Luckily for me, my husband had just had a pay rise that almost covered this loss, so we didn’t panic. He works for Iceland and although I worry every day about the risk he is taking being there, I am also extremely grateful that we still have an income and access to food.
I’m now home-schooling my five-year-old son, which isn’t too much of a challenge as I used to be a childminder and I work with children at my clubs. In fact, I’ve been really enjoying it. My older children see to themselves and they’ve been brilliant at playing with their little brother when they take breaks between lessons. We are also lucky to live in a semi-rural location with a huge garden, ducks and chickens and other animals, plus a vegetable plot to keep us all busy. We are fortunate, and I do not take that for granted.
I feel the fear, like all of us. My 17-year-old daughter has just got a job with her dad at Iceland, and although I am proud of her I am also terrified for her. I try to avoid the news in the day and my little boy is a wonderful distraction and a shining light for me daily. His adaptability has inspired us all. But it hits me in the evening, and I can’t help sit and consider everything that has changed and wonder when normality will return.
The things is, I’m not sure how much of the ‘normal’ I want to return. I love schooling my little one and although I think school can provide a better and more rounded education than me, I am going to miss him like hell when this is over. I miss my clubs and the children and adults I work with. I keep meaning to set up online content for them or engage with them via Skype or Zoom but I’ve had to admit at the moment I just don’t have the emotional energy for it by the time my day is over. I don’t miss the stressful day-to-day running around. I spent most of my earnings on petrol I think as we only have one car, so I was pretty much running everyone everywhere all the time. I don’t miss traffic jams and it’s so peaceful now where we live. And I don’t really miss other people. I’m an introvert who loves to be alone. In fact, I need to be alone to refuel, so lockdown is not a challenge for me the way it is for more sociable people. I’m actually a little bit worried about how I will cope adjusting back to ‘normal’ again. I also think the world was heading in a worrying direction and I really hope that this ‘pause’ in proceedings will make us all think about the kind of society we want when it is all over.
As for writing? There is a bit less time as the kids are here in the day, but most of my writing took place in the evenings anyway and now that I don’t have clubs to prepare for, I’m able to get plenty done. I am tired though as I spend a lot of time attacking my garden! I’m probably blogging more than usual, as I keep thinking about lockdown related things to talk about. I find this as therapeutic and hopeful as gardening.
So, it’s weird. I’m still doing all the things I’ve always done, all the things I love. I’m with my kids and my animals. I’m writing and reading and listening to music. I’m gardening and growing things and spending as much time outdoors as I can. Normal, everyday stress and strain has been replaced with a darker, spikier edge of fear that only comes out at night. I the lockdown and love lockdown. I want normality back and I fear it returning. I’m a very confused writer, but that is probably also normal for me.
Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling.
Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 6 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. The award-winning Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson was released in December 2019 and is the first in a trilogy. Chantelle has had multiple articles about writing published by Author’s Publish magazine.
Perhaps this is the time in which writers should be writing their hearts out.
Unless you work in the NHS, or are a key worker, most of us have more time on our hands. The material is there all around us. But, where to begin? How do we push past the fear and anxiety to begin? A good way is to try something new. Write in a different genre perhaps, or scribble down some humourous passages, (to help lift us out of a melancholic mind set.)
But if you are overwhelmed and unable to write don’t beat yourself up. That is okay too. Do what is best for you and for your mental health.
Recently, I was thrilled to receive some new reviews which I’d love to share with you.
For the first book in the YA fantasy series Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone from author Darlene Foster:
For someone who doesn’t usually read fantasy, this YA novel caught my interest. The teenage characters in the book are very real with typical issues such as lack of confidence, jealousy, confusion, parental disagreements, and volatile friendships. Amelina comes from a dysfunctional family with a paranormal twist. If she can figure out the curse, perhaps her family could be happy once more. In her quest, she meets a self-harming girl locked in a mirror, a heartthrob boy with a mean side, a cottage full of amazing crystals and an old woman with sage advice. I like that the story is based on a real clock, the Corpus Chronophage clock, in Cambridge, England. (Chronophage means time-eater). There is some time travel in the story, which I love. There’s a lot happening in this very descriptive book and not everything is explained. But that is because it is the first book in a series. I look forward to reading more about Amelina and her quirky friends.
And from Willow for my poetry, prose and photography collection Mr. Sagittarius:
willow willers 5.0 out of 5 stars A magical story told in poetry prose and photography Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 April 2020 What a magical Web is woven here by author Marjorie Mallon. A tale of two brothers and a sister, botanical gardens, magical creatures and a bench under a Golden Willow Tree. This delightful mix can be either read in one go or enjoyed as momentary fix. I truly cannot recommend Mr Sagittarius enough there is something for everyone inside it’s pages. I shall say no more apart from urge you to read this book and be totally charmed by it.
What Am I Writing?
I have a confession to make. If I had to write the third book in my YA series The Curse of Time I would struggle. I’m living in such a scary reality that I just can’t think, or imagine a full length fantasy novel setting at the moment. Instead, I am writing about the big R word – reality. I’m writing the COV19 diaries on my blog. I’m not sure when I will publish the companion stories, flash fiction and poetry but I am glad that this is keeping me occupied. My experiences are serving as my plot: what is happening with COV19 – our day to day living, the moments that make me stop and wonder, pause and reflect, smile, or cry. Those moments are in abundance.
No one can cope with the continuous news on tap, the grim, factual accounts of the death toll, or the depth of human suffering we hear about. We are living this strange reality, day in and day out. Instead, I am writing true life experiences giving fictional characters a true and authentic voice. Of course, some of these stories, diaries, flash fiction and poetry pieces will be sad, but the majority will be uplifting, humorous, and hopeful, because that is what we need now and in the future.
We need hope, humour, and honour. To be kind to one another, to look out for each other. To thank those who are selfless: our NHS, and our key workers.This is their time; They are our heroes.
How is this virus impacting our creativity? What kind of stories will it bring?
What are your feelings about writing during the Coronavirus? Are you struggling to write? Or to read?
Before I go I’d like to suggest a short, uplifting read perfect for these times – my latest release is a positive solution to #boredom. A great, wee read! Enjoy.
Mr. Sagittarius is a collection of poetry, prose and photographic images inspired by the botanical gardens in Cambridge. Photography is in the genes! Both my uncle and grandfather were photographers. My grandfather A.G. Ingram was originally with the photography company Ingram, Gordon & Co in Haddington up until the mid thirties. Then he ventured on his own to form the Scottish Pictorial Press in Edinburgh supplying photos to the press. When war broke out Scottish Pictorial Press became defunct. After the war he started AG Ingram Ltd, Commercial Photographers, at 3 successive locations in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Some good news! My full colour paperback is now available in Amazon. Here’s my universal link for Mr. Sagitarrius which is available in paperback, kindle and free on kindle unlimited: Buying Link: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius
A Jewish girl-turned-spy must infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school in this highly commercial, relentlessly nail-biting World War II drama!
After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah–blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish–finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead. Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can’t attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she’s ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined.
I’ve been keen to read his for a while and I am so glad I took the plunge! I absolutely loved Orphan Monster Spy from page one right through to the fabulous ending. Matt Killeen has a wonderful way with words and I loved the heroine of the story: Sarah. She’s so feisty and rises above all her terrible experiences, (including the death of her mother,) to be a truly awesome, fierce, brave and engaging character.
You’d enjoy this if you like stories set in Nazi Germany.
It doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of this time period of history. This is a different take, focusing on a young Jewish girl infiltrating a Nazi school for the ‘elite,’ and convincing them that she is one of them. What a great idea for a story.
It is obviously well researched and the author Matt Killeen’s compassion and humanity is evident in his writing.
It’s an easy one to rate. A five stars without a doubt. Definitely a favourite. Highly recommended.
These sweet birds are associated with: family, a sense of community, living in the moment, leaving the past behind, the season of spring, rejuvenation, new beginnings, happiness expressed through song/music, feeling abundant, (in nature, not caring so much for material things,) and being grateful.
Meaning of a robin sighting:
A robin sighting can be a divine messenger teaching you to protect what you love and learn to live with those who may not be like you. What in your life resembles the robin’s nature? What can you do to change who you are? What can you accept, or perhaps let go of ?
A Robin is a symbol of good luck, passion, new beginnings and renewal and sometimes can represent a symbol of wisdom and patience. In my case, I believe this is what the robin came to teach me. To be patient, to take my time in my writing path and not to get frustrated! To move forward with a sense of joy and energy to leave my past behind and not to regret any previous choices I have made.
Perhaps my little robin came to impart an important message: Believe in Myself and Accept Who I am.
This particular robin features in my new release Mr. Sagittarius – a mixture of prose and poetry and photography which is available to buy on Amazon.
The first month’s royalties of the ebook will be donated to the Australian bush fires.
Furthermore, the second in my YA fantasy Series The Curse of Time, Golden healer also mentions a robin too. This will be released later on this year. How strange that a robin plays a part in that novel too, albeit a tiny part!
If you haven’t read the first book in the series The Curse of Time Bloodstone now is the time to do so. It is on #free #promo today 21st February 2020.