The Reading Realm – New Version this Month

It’s great to see The Shop on Peculiar Hill listed among some of this year’s favourite books of Ian Eagleton, whose educational app The Reading Realm is to be substantially upgraded this month. The Reading Realm presents children with a wide range of extracts from prose and poetry, both classic and contemporary, with lots of games to entice them into reading. The new version also includes creative writing from children themselves. In addition, I’m proud to report, it will include an extract from The Shop on Peculiar Hill! Needless to say, I’m delighted to be involved with this wonderful project. The updated app is scheduled to be released sometime this month. I’ll let you know here when it becomes available.

Radzy’s Review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’

Hi, Grimly here! Yes, I know it’s the first time I’ve shown my face in a while but I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches to my new book ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. I’ll be sending it off to our publisher, Jennifer, at Journey Fiction any day now so it should be out in good time for Christmas. Don’t forget to put it on Santa’s shopping list…

As you might have guessed, it’s all about the further adventures of Peter and Amanda on Peculiar Hill, this time joined by another young friend called Mala, whose father, the hapless explorer Augustus Flipper, has gone mysteriously missing. Is there a chance that in the course of their investigations they will wander into the Vale of Strange, you may be asking? It may be best not to exclude this possibility.

You’ll be able to read much more about the new book here on the blog in the buildup to publication, so don’t forget to follow us to make sure you get notification of new posts as they come out. You can do this either by email (see the form in the sidebar) or through Facebook. If you have a WordPress account, you can also follow us through them.

To add to the excitement, there’s another new review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ just out, this time by blogger Radzy who writes: “I can only imagine the creative impact this will have on young minds, and cannot recommend this book enough for yourself, the wee ones in your world, or just anyone you know who will enjoy a quirky, meaningful novel.”

As you can tell, she really likes the book and it’s a very thoughtful, perceptive review, well worth a read in full on her excellent blog, ‘Radzy Writes and Reviews‘. I strongly suggest you take a look at it now…

Thank you, Radzy!

Finally, the usual piece of fashion advice: Uncle Bob may say you don’t really need one for bogeys at this time of year, but if you’re here in the UK, you’ll need one to keep out the rain. So do the smart thing and don’t forget your hat!

(This column has Aunt Maggie’s Official Seal of Approval.)

A Welcome, an Update on Grimly, and a Great New App called The Reading Realm

Welcome to those of you who have only recently liked our Facebook page. Some of you may have liked us as part of the LoveReading4Kids competition to win a signed copy of ‘The Shop On Peculiar Hill’. Others may have liked us because you actually really like us. But whatever it is that brings you here, I hope you will stay and join in the fun.
The winners of that competition are due to be notified by July 12. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything! In the meantime, you may like to pump up the excitement by reading two free sample chapters of the book – which you can find on Grimly’s website here.
Speaking of Grimly, you may be wondering why there’s not been much sign of him recently here on the blog. That’s because he’s still revising the second book in the Vale of Strange series, which is going to be called ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. We estimate he is now on draft number 238 and we’ve just had to open our 35th pack of jumbo waste paper baskets to accommodate all the pages he’s thrown away. But he says this latest version is finally totally perfect and… oh no, he’s just scrunched it up and thrown it away and is banging his head against the wall. We’ll be on Version number 239 then next, as soon as the steam has stopped coming out of his ears, and this version is going to be totally, totally perfect and it’ll be out on 1st November. Unless it isn’t of course.
Meanwhile, I wonder if you have heard the exciting news that an excerpt from The Shop on Peculiar Hill is going to be in a brilliant new app called The Reading Realm which incorporates all sorts of games to help children develop their reading. It’s going to be loads of fun and it’s already made the top ten downloads for education apps. We’re going to be in the new version of the app which is out in September.
Mr Ian Eagleton, who developed the app, described ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ as “thrilling, dark, utterly barmy, funny and surprisingly moving”. He said “I love finding gems like this to share on The Reading Realm”. Obviously he is a man of taste as well as talent. (We call him “Mr” because he used to be a teacher.)
Right – that’s it then for now then. Good luck to those of you who entered the competition! We hope you hear soon… And please remember: even in July, it really is best to wear your hat! (Whatever Uncle Bob may tell you.)

The Shop on Peculiar Hill – three free copies to be won!

Well, with the extra publicity we’ve been getting through lovereading4 kids (as we mentioned last time) we’re getting more people reading The Shop on Peculiar Hill and so, we hope, more people are finding this website for the first time. If one of them is you, then welcome to Planet Grimly, your one stop shop for all things Vale of Strange (though we’re a bit short of unge and glop, to be honest – we suggest you try eBay for them). You are very welcome to ask any questions you may have about The Vale of Strange (just occasionally we may even know the answers) or send us a review of the book or some artwork it has inspired you to create. You will see some of the remarkable artwork and responses we’ve already received if you take a look back through the previous posts. Our contact address is grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

We’re also delighted to announce that those nice people at lovereading4kids have three signed copies of The Shop on Peculiar Hill to give away free! That’s signed by Grimly himself, I hasten to add. It was quite an effort and he had to lie down afterwards. If he ever becomes a truly best selling author (and he’s not quite there yet) he’s going to have to go on one of those army fitness programmes to tone up his hand muscles first. Otherwise he will never cope with the signing sessions. Anyway, just for now his work is done and he’s getting back his strength by munching on a chocolate biscuit and a stick of celery, so the chances are he’ll pull through this time. If you would like a chance to partake of the fruits of his labour then full details of how you can win one of the valuable signed copies he has produced can be found on the lovereading4kids site here.  The competition closes on 30th June, so don’t delay – get entering right away!

It occurs to me, though, that most of you reading this will probably already have read The Shop on Peculiar Hill so you may not be mega excited by the competition. Bear in mind, however, that these are potentially valuable signed copies, so they could be worth a fortune one day – or at least the price of a packet of chocolate biscuits and a stick of celery, in case you too need to recover from an arduous workout. And it also seems likely that you may know some of those unfortunate people who haven’t yet read the book. So here is your chance to bring a little sunshine into their lives by sending them a link to the competition and strongly suggesting they enter. After all, someone – or, more accurately – three people – have to get lucky and one of them could be them!

All right, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading this (assuming you did, and haven’t just cheated by skipping to the end). Don’t forget to spread the news about the competition – and, most importantly – as always! – don’t forget your hat!

A Perfectly Peculiar Page-turner

(Just in case you were wondering, The Shop on Peculiar Hill is available from Amazon UK and other online retailers, in either paperback or Kindle format. For US readers, it is also on Amazon.com, again in paperback or Kindle format.)

Grimly is very excited again today because The Shop on Peculiar Hill just got an excellent review from the prestigious lovereading4kids.co.uk site. Here’s a taste of what they had to say:

“A riotously imaginative feast of fantastical adventure with lashings of larger-than-life characters and curious goings-on… This book’s whimsical, jaunty language and characterisation make it marvellous for reading aloud. In fact, as you read the dialogue, it’s easy to hear and see the characters in action, replete with tone of voice and physical quirks. Brilliantly bonkers, this perfectly peculiar page-turner comes heartily recommended for fans of Mr Gum and Philip Ardagh.”

– Joanne Owen, review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ for lovereading4kids.co.uk

You can read the entire review on the lovereading4kids site, and you may be interested to see what other books the site recommends. They’re certainly worth bookmarking for the next time you’re prodding around for an entertaining read.

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The Shop on Peculiar Hill is featured on their front page as one of the site’s ‘Indie Books We Love’! It also appears in numerous other lists on the site, including ‘featured books for age 7+’ , ‘featured books for age 9+’ and ‘fantasy and magic books’, where it rubs shoulders with titles by JK Rowling, David Walliams, and the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ books.

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It’s nice to be listed amongst such famous writers. Up until now, The Shop on Peculiar Hill has been mainly getting great reviews but in terms of sales, it’s not been rivalling the popularity of, say, hot cakes, mainly because not many people know about us yet. So we’re hoping that more people will notice us while we’re on lovereading4kids

In her review (see above) Joanne mentions Philip Ardagh and Mr Gum. This is interesting, because Grimly was inspired to write The Shop on Peculiar Hill by reading a Philip Ardagh book which his nephew lent him. This was one of the Eddie Dickens trilogy. Grimly loved the style of the writing and wanted to use a similar style to describe the events in the Vale of Strange that he saw through his telescope. We still love Philip Ardagh. We’re completely new to Mr Gum though. Have you read him? If you like The Shop on Peculiar Hill, you should give Mr Gum a try. His books, which are written by Andy Stanton, are a bit like The Vale of Strange with all the sensible bits taken out  – and I mean that in a nice way.

So if you enjoyed The Shop on Peculiar Hill, what other authors do you like? And who would you recommend to people who have finished Grimly’s first book and are sitting around impatiently waiting for the next (which is due later this year, don’t forget!) Do write and tell us! Grimly’s email address is grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

And finally, if you enjoyed The Shop on Peculiar Hill, do spread the word about it. There are plenty of poor people out there who’ve never heard of us – don’t let them miss out!

And finally, finally, one – two – three, don’t forget your hat!

Live on Peculiar Hill

Illustrious speaking opportunity yesterday. Well, all right, a chance to read aloud from ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill‘ for five minutes before they sound a bell and throw you off stage. Naturally I myself (Grimly) was far too busy so I sent Simon Ounsley instead (see picture). As usual, he had a great time swanning about pretending to be me – and the reading seemed to be well received, though from what I hear his Aunt Maggie voice needs a lot more work.

Many thanks to Anzir Boodoo for telling us about the event, and to Fictions of Every Kind for the opportunity to speak. We hope to attend a future meeting, and this time perhaps provide an exclusive foretaste of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the second book in the series, which is due out later this year.

And now he’s had a try-out in front of some adults (as far as I could tell, though there might have been the odd twelve-year-old with a false beard who had slipped in undetected) we can send Simon Ounsley to read in front of some children. If you are involved with some likely establishment (school, library, shop or similar) who might tolerate him for a short while as he mangles my prose, then please get in touch with us.

Do send Ounsley back in one piece though. He still has a vital role to fulfill in our organisation. No one has made me a decent cappuccino all morning.

Don’t forget that we’re always very happy to receive illustrations, reviews, and anything else you might be inspired to produce after reading ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’! Please send such items to us, but bear in mind that we will be assuming you are submitting them for publication unless you specifically say otherwise.

Our email for all purposes is grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

See you next time then, and remember it’s still bogey season, so don’t forget your hat!

Strange Vegetables

“This book has it all – death, darkness, fearsome creatures, strange vegetables – everything needed to brew up a fantastical tale. This story is well written in very straightforward language… there is always something going on to keep your interest. The author has written the characters very well, so clearly that you can picture them in your mind – kind of like watching a Harry Potter movie. Great story and I’m looking forward to Book Two.”

– Anne-Marie Reynolds (Readers’ Favorite)

Grimly is very excited about this new review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill‘. He likes it when people choose exactly the right words to describe a book. If in doubt, “Harry Potter” will always do very nicely, though “strange vegetables” comes a close second…