The Crab Who Went to the Moon by Gary Carse

Author Interviews, Books, Stewart Pink

Aimed at 8-12 year olds, this delightful children’s book tells the story of Shelly, a socially anxious crab forced to leave the safe haven of her cave. Accompanied by fantastic illustrations we dive into an underwater world filled with wacky, wonderful characters and littered with some laugh-out-loud quips you’ll remember long after reading. 

The opening few chapters move at an exciting, fast pace and as a sea of imagination pours from the pages, readers will find themselves fully immersed in Shelly’s page-turning journey.

In a recent interview on Phoenix FM, author Gary Carse explains his debut children’s book is “really going back to how I used to feel when I was young; new people, the prospect of talking to someone you don’t know and having to make friends with a new group… it was scary wasn’t it?” “It’s really about Shelly coming out of her shell.

There is a strong, well crafted undercurrent that guides young readers to self-confidence and overcoming anxiety in social situations throughout the book as well as highlighting the effects of ocean pollution on marine life for a young audience.

The stuff that you consume when you’re a child stays with you into adulthood so I really hope that the book helps the adults in ten years time have empathy and have awareness of ocean pollution so that they can do something about it.

Now you're talking with Gary Carse Now You're Talking (Guest Interviews)

With a great deal of experience in animation (Carse & Waterman), it is no surprise that bringing characters to life is something Gary does expertly in his writing too. Even inanimate objects take on a life of their own and accents bring the dialogue of sea creatures into the real world, from geordie seagulls to hippy squids! For young readers and for adults looking to read an entertaining bedtime story to the kids, The Crab Who Went To The Moon lends itself superbly to exciting re-enactments that will be an instant favourite for both parent and child. 

As a debut children’s author, this has undoubtedly seen Gary come out of his shell too but with so much to enjoy in this story, I sneakily suspect that this first instalment is a drop in the ocean of imagination that awaits young readers. 

You can order your copy of The Crab Who Went To The Moon in a variety of book stores and at garycarsechildrensbooks.com


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Do Young Adult books still hold merit?

Audiobooks, Books, Features, Pink in Ink, Uncategorized

If you’ve been a member of the bookish community for a time, we’ve all stumbled across what we call “book-snobs”. Those who, for whatever reason, think that at a certain age you shouldn’t keep reading and enjoying YA titles. Of course, as I stress in all parts of my life, we are all entitled to our own opinions, that doesn’t mean those opinions should be pushed on other people.

I wonder if these ideas about YA books being ‘grown out of’ stem from this inherent feeling we all have at certain stages of our lives. As soon as we reach a certain age, we all feel like we should know what we’re doing or we should be at a certain stage in our lives at a certain age. We all base our life goals on our age.

Another factor of this could be what we’re taught at school. I remember in my year 6 English, during a parents evening my teacher told them that I need to stop reading books she saw as written for younger kids. But my parents were amazing and literally said she should be glad that in age of advancing technology that I have a huge drive and interest to read any books at all! I’ve said before that my fondest memories as a kid was going to my local bookstore or library and just seeing rows and rows of shelves stacked as tall as the ceiling with books. Obviously, this desire to read was unusual for my age!

But, if we look at why there are still so many adults reading these YA books, it’s something that should be taken into account too. I love a YA book, it’s like the authors have this leverage to be extraordinarily creative with the worlds and the relationships that develop in these books are so fairytale. But I’ve started seeing more adult themes come into the YA worlds which begs the question; is literature evolving?

Long story short, I don’t think that there is such a thing as unmerited reading. In our day-and-age, any interest in reading is special and something that shouldn’t be belittled based on personal tastes. We should all be encouraging each other to read whatever we enjoy and share with each other our favorite stories without fear of being suppressed.

As the very philosophical character, Dory says “just keep swimming”… or reading.


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Lava Red Feather Blue

Audiobooks, Big News, Big News-Books, Books, Pink in Ink, Uncategorized

Molly Ringle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Awakening the handsome prince is supposed to end the fairy tale, not begin it. But the Highvalley witches have rarely done things the way they’re supposed to. On the north Pacific island of Eidolonia, hidden from the world by enchantments, Prince Larkin has lain in a magical sleep since 1799 as one side of a truce between humans and fae. That is, until Merrick Highvalley, a modern-day witch, discovers an old box of magic charms and cryptic notes hidden inside a garden statue. Experimenting with the charms, Merrick finds himself inside the bower where Larkin lies, and accidentally awakens him. Worse still, releasing Larkin from the spell also releases Ula Kana, a faery bent on eradicating humans from the island. With the truce collapsing and hostilities escalating throughout the country, Merrick and Larkin form an unlikely alliance and become even unlikelier heroes as they flee into the perilous fae realm on a quest to stop Ula Kana and restore harmony to their island.

Well, this was unexpected!

I’ve never read, or heard of Molly Ringle and her novels and, as per tradition around here, I’ve been missing out!

The book starts with the perspective of our dashing Prince, Larkin and the events that eventually lead to his magical long sleep in 1799. 200 years later (sometimes I wish I could sleep that long!) we then meet Merrick (the distant relative to the witch that put Larkin in his long sleep) who seems to do a spectacular job at getting things wrong… I like him already! When he finds a hidden portal to the place the sleeping Prince Larkin is kept, he feels compassion towards him. But by simply brushing away dust, Merrick wakes him and, inadvertently, Ula Kana who wreaked havoc on Eidolonia 200 years ago because of hate towards humans.

The character building in this was amazing and the relationship development between Larkin and Merrick was one I became very invested in very quickly! Even though the final plot was somewhat predictable, the twists and turns that this took left me hooked. The world-building was great, the imagination of these realms in the fae world were so much different to what I was expecting.

I think my favourite part of this whole tale was the references to the real world and cultures. She also used words from native languages to create character names which shows not only her incredible imagination but the respect of real history.

If you have your eye on this book, get it! If you’re a fan of the Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, you’ll find this a great read.

A huge thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Central Avenue Publishing, for the opportunity to read this in advance!

This title is available to order now on Waterstones UK, Book Depository, Wordery and other bookstores now!

Paperback RRP £15.99


Paperback

352 pages

Published – 5th January 2021

Publishing Company – Central Avenue Publishing

The Starless Sea

Audiobooks, Big News-Books, Books, Pink in Ink

Erin Morgenstern

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is. A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea

After ten years of waiting for fans of Erin Morngenstern’s hugely successful debut The Night Circus, we’re transported to another wonderfully fantastical world of magic doors, mythical libraries and legendary stories.

We follow Zachary Ezra, our protagonist. During his regular visit to the local library, he stumbles upon a book full of fantastical short stories that looks to be very old. As he flicks through this mysterious book of tales, the is a tale of romance involving what is called the starless sea in an underground world. But as he continues reading, he finds one that reads like a very unusual moment in his life. In perfect detail. Can he find out who wrote about this moment in his life? Will he find the starless sea?

I loved The Night Circus and became a die-hard fan of Morgenstern’s from its last page. So, when I saw she was finally coming out with another title, I was beyond excited!

As I began to read, I discovered why it took so long between publications. This book is impeccably crafted. Not only do we have a wonderful, beautiful and captivating main plot with excellent character-building, but we find that this is just book-inception. The short fairy tales are published inside the main story, giving it even more unique qualities. But these extra tales aren’t rushed, far from it. They are immersive in-and-of themselves. If she published a book with just the short tales, I’d be throwing my money everywhere!

I loved her descriptive writing of this world and the magical painted doors, I really felt I could see everything and just wanted, desperately, for someone to invent a way to travel to these fictional worlds, to hear, see and smell the surroundings.

Despite all that, I became a little annoyed at the amount of filler-words there were (more specifically the word ‘and’). I ended up skipping over these words so often because they really were over-used and took me away from the story. This AND this, AND this… it just got annoying.

But for a negative, it’s a pretty minor one which I can easily look past (literally) because the level of craftsmanship was staggering.

This really made me feel festive, for some reason. Maybe something to do with when I ordered it? I can’t recommend this more and Erin Morgenstern remains one of my all-time favourite authors.


Hardcover

498 pages

Published – 5th February 2020

Publishing Company – Doubleday Books


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A Christmas Carol

Books, Stewart Pink

A book review from the music guy? What is this, Christmas? Oh yeah. 

I’ve always enjoyed Christmas as a time of year when the pace of life slows down and we can reconnect with ourselves and each other. A chance to reflect not just on the passing year but also think about our own stamp on it. What did I do and what can I be proud of? This year, for a lot of us it’ll be a difficult time for lots of reasons but if there’s one thing you can do it’s embrace a little old fashioned reflection, remembering the past, taking stock of the present and looking forward to the future – if you’ve never really done that before then picking up Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the best place to start. 

Sure, you probably already know how it goes; an old grumpy bloke has a ghostly dream about the past, present and future Christmas and then wakes up with his life in a whole new perspective and suddenly becomes the most charitable, kind and giving person in the world. It’s a classic and therefore you might never read it, assuming there’s nothing you could possibly gain from picking it up but if you’ve ever wished if only for a moment that you could be/do/help more or if you’re the person who doesn’t see the point in Christmas then I really urge you to give this a read. Light a candle and enjoy it old-school, read it in your dressing gown with a nightcap and by the end of it you might just wake up changed. 

My first encounter with this story, as a 90s child was The Muppets Christmas Carol and although I was well aware of Dickens’ classics and their impact on the world I did find it just a little bit tricky trying to get the idea that Bob Cratchet was NOT Kermit the frog out of my head. Once I eventually lost that image the story swept me away. 

School English lessons usually cover Dickens’ work, but if you’re under the illusion he’s in the same ancient, dated and incomprehensible bracket as Shakespeare then you’re mistaken. Yes, it’s a story older than anybody still alive but it’s language and the way in which Dickens relays the story, his descriptions and even the dialogue have stood the test of time perfectly. Many an English teacher will tell you that Charles Dickens paved the way for modern story telling and reading this you’ll see why. With engaging and colourful characters he paints a vivid, warts-and-all picture of a Victorian society that we know now as a classic backdrop to an old story but what was then, the world he lived in, expertly captured. 

In summary, reading A Christmas Carol opens up a portal to the past that is purely magical in the way it transports us back in time. If a little old fashioned story telling is on your Christmas list, if you’ve lost touch with what the festivities are all about or what’s important to you then making A Christmas Carol your bedtime reading will do wonders for your Christmas spirit. 


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The Guest List

Books, Pink in Ink

Lucy Foley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body        On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.          But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.          And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

I may have stayed up until 3am to finish this book… it’s only taken me a day to read.

I first came across Lucy Foley’s writing with The Hunting Party that was gifted to my better-half for Christmas and had to read it as soon as possible… I read it first (sorry, honey!) and I instantly fell in love with her writing and immersive storytelling with the tang that this could really be real life.

Needless to say, after I read her first book I immediately jumped online to see if there were any new books on the horizon. Sure enough there was. INSTANTLY PRESSED THE PRE-ORDER BUTTON! (Yes I’m using capital letters to get across my child-like excitement).

I was nervous once I received my copy in fear that it wouldn’t match the excitement and suspense of her first book… I WAS SO WRONG! (it’s tempting to use multiple exclamation marks to try and drive home my excitement a little more, but I’ll stick to the capital letters for now).
I don’t know how but it was better than I could have ever expected. It had the same formula as The Hunting Party but it didn’t feel like a formula at all. I was (literally) hooked from the first page. The only time I put down my book was to eat.

The descriptive writing about this perfect island away from the rest of the world with beautiful places to explore and staying in a grand hotel. Similarly to The Hunting Party, we follow multiple perspectives and jump a few days into the future until it all collides at the apex of the book.

Every character was so well fleshed out and our key players were exceptionally crafted. Some I loved, some I hated, envied or didn’t trust. The very last chapter just left me clawing for more!

It’s now 4am while I’m writing this because I just can’t help but want to rave about this book. I cannot contain my excitement and adoration until morning.

Needless to say, I will be keeping a very close eye out for any new books to be released by this extraordinarily, talented writer. (Do you think my partner elbowing me in the face while he’s sleeping is a hint to go to sleep?)


Hardcover

320 pages

Published – 20th February 2020

Publishing Company – Harper Collins


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Serpent & Dove

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Shelby Mahurin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.           Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.          The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.          And love makes fools of us all.

This title just blew up in the book world. I’m guilty for purchasing this purely because of the hype!

I’m noticing a trend where witch-themes are making a come-back in publishing and Ms. Mahurin chose a great time to have this published. Many of the YA-fantasy Royals have reignited this adoration.

Set in a some-what historical setting in France during the time of the witch-trials, this added a layer of romance and gothic feel. Louise le Blanc is a young witch, running away from her mother and her coven after years of mistreatment from them. When she is found by the Chasseur, Reid Diggory, she uses her magic to coerce the archbishop to wed the pair and wipe her true identity from knowledge to protect herself from the Chasseur and her mother.

Louise and Reid’s relationship goes from indifference and distrust to love ad romance. Though this was really well written, I don’t tend to enjoy this trope. However, as I said, this relationship development was really well written where it felt organic and not something the author is forcing.

The main plot-point took a good chunk of this book before we get to the climax. But, since this is a series of two books (with a promise of a third) I kind of expected this.

All in all, I did enjoy this. It was a good read but wasn’t something to write home about.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?


Hardcover

513 pages

Published – 3rd September 2019

Publishing Company – Harper Teen


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Paperback vs. Hardcover

Big News-Books, Books, Features, Pink in Ink, Uncategorized

Similarly to my previous discussion of the pro’s and cons of eBooks vs. physical books, there’s another discussion that’s been around for decades; are paperbacks better or are hardcovers?

When I was growing up I almost exclusively read paperback novels and rarely got to buy a luxurious hardcover. I think one of the reasons why was because of how many titles I went through in such a short time so it was more economical, giving more money to buy many rather than a few. The other reason I mostly read paperbacks were because these are, to this day, much more readily available and easily mass-produced. Whereas any hardcover requires a lot more cost in publication and less in the was of profit. And they aren’t overly budget friendly for most of us.

Paperbacks, as I said are much easier and cheaper to mass-produce meaning that its then cheaper for the consumers. They’re easier to carry around in your pocket or bag and are far easier to hold. But they have less of a life-span, these days more than decades past. We live in an economy where the cheaper it is, the less robust they are and the more you spend the better the quality… sometimes.

So, why are hardbacks still available if they are more costly? If you’re like me and buy books in the hopes to not only practically live in a library but to also share with your future generations, a hardcover is far more likely to survive decades unscathed. But they do come with a higher price tag and are usually come as a collectable or special edition.

The way a paperback and hardback are bound is similar in that the pages are glued. But paperbacks are literally just that, glue and a softcover to protect those precious pages. Whereas a hardcover is made of a slightly tougher glue and the board gives it an extra layer of protection. If you’re looking for any of your favourite titles to last centuries and not just decades, a library binding is far superior. They not only are a hardcover with a strong adhesive but they are also sewn. Each text has a wedge of pages stacked, called signatures, that are then sewn to each signature, then glued together to add another layer. After that they are bound in a board-cover and secured in place by the end-pages. Cool right? The reason a library bound book is so much more durable and thought about is because of the amount of hands it exchanges, the amount of people that have turned its pages, dropped it, shoved it in their bag – you name it. So to make the overall costs lower on the libraries, they invest in a higher quality binding.

So really, the differences between a paperback or hardcover are slight. The lux of owning a hardcover still stands and feels more substantial. I personally prefer pre-ordering a hardcover, if they are available, in a special edition binding or of that nature because, even though they cost more to make, they are usually for a limited run so then there is a slight dip in the environmental impact. And most of the time, the books I buy I love or pass on to friends, family or my local library.

Much like the entirety of the publishing world, it’s all down to personal preference. If you buy a paperback copy to just indulge your need for literature or you splash-out on a hardcover so you have something to treasure for years to come, its all up to you. All that really matters is that you’re reading and that you’re enjoying it!


Quick Tip

To keep you new hardcover books looking perfect after you’ve read them, I found a great info-graph to ‘prime’ that brand new spine so they stand the test of time.


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The Dead of Winter

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Nicola Upson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

December 1938, and storm clouds hover once again over Europe. Josephine Tey and Archie Penrose gather with friends for a Cornish Christmas, but two strange and brutal deaths on St Michael’s Mount – and the unexpected arrival of a world famous film star, in need of sanctuary – interrupt the festivities. Cut off by the sea and a relentless blizzard, the hunt for a murderer begins. Pivoting on a real moment in history, the ninth novel in the ‘Josephine Tey’ series draws on all the much-loved conventions of the Golden Age Christmas mystery, whilst giving them a thrilling contemporary twist

Despite this being a tale from the Josephine Tey series, and not actually reading any of the previous works; this can be read as a stand-alone.

Why are all festive murders set in the countryside?! I love the beautiful language that can be used to describe the picturesque surroundings but I doubt that there are that many horrific murders in small communities!

On a serious note; this was a really well written, gruesome depiction of historical events. Yes, our leading lady Josephine Tey and her counterpart are fiction but the main scenarios were based on actual people. If you’ve seen my other reviews, I love crime/thrillers. I love watching and reading true-crime and learning the techniques used to uncover the truths of some grizzly events. When I’m reading any crime novel, I make mental notes of the characters inconsistencies, motives and means.

With this one, I did manage to figure out the plot-point but it was still a great read! It also shed light on personal histories of those that are referenced and past, forgotten crimes and their victims… The more I review books the more I notice how strange my mind is!

Though this was a fun read, I struggled to remember who was who in the story, it felt as though further research and mapping was needed to really sell these interpretations. Despite that, I will be looking into more of this authors works, hopefully in the near(ish) future!


Hardcover

320 pages

Published – 5th November 2020

Publishing Company – Faber Faber


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Come Again

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Robert Webb

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart. One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this was the day she first met Luke. But he is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same…

When I first saw this, I thought it sounded like such a bittersweet story. A take on the throws of grief, loss and depression.

After I learned it was written by Robert Webb, quite a well-known name in our home for his comedy, I was even more intrigued to see the whit that would come up. Despite it sounding like a rather sad tale, it did make me audibly laugh more times than I ever have while reading!

Our leading lady, Kate was such a character! She was so well crafted, I began to really feel like she was a friend of my own; trying to help her see that people love her and grief doesn’t take centre-stage forever.

I think my favourite part of this was when Kate wakes up to find she’s in her dorm room at uni on the day she met her future husband. With every change of history she made, I couldn’t help but think “has the world imploded? Or has a huge nuclear explosion wiped out the human race because of the changes?”

I really enjoyed this story. For a debut with such heavy expectation, it was so enjoyable and I just loved the ease and flow of it and I loved the retake on the butterfly effect.

This was an audiobook listen for me. Olivia Colman is a great actress, on screen, and just as great on audio. Her emotions she showed were so easy to connect with. The annunciation at perfect points in the dialogues were spot on. I would highly recommend to listen to the audiobook, it gives such a wonderful extra-layer to the already excellent writing.

Did I mention I loved it?


Audiobook

13 hours 08 minutes

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Penguin Audio


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