That nice Ian Eagleton, developer of the ReadingRealm app, is running a series of live readings and other activities to entertain the kids during these challenging times. Here’s his schedule for the week ahead and I’m delighted to report that Tuesday’s session will include a read along extract from none other than that exciting and mysterious fantasy adventure, The Shop on Peculiar Hill by Grimly Darkwood. Do tune in or synchronise your algorithms or whatever it is you do these days and join in the fun. You will find the live readings over at the Reading Realm Facebook page (as opposed to the Reading Realm Group Facebook page where you won’t find them, this being an entirely different kettle of strange creatures). Ian helpfully points out that the Ebook version of The Shop on Peculiar Hill is currently available from Amazon for just 99p, so if the reading whets your appetite for further strangeness, you know where to go…
“The author’s vivid imagination, exceptional story-telling and brilliant writing make this a fantasy novel you will recall in years to come.”
Following on from Mani’s review the other day, it’s great to see yet more encouraging words about ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ from Peggy Jo Wipf at Readers’ Favorite. The whole of her five star review follows.
‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ by Grimly Darkwood continues the tale of The Vale of Strange. Darkwood flawlessly ties book one to book two by making you feel you hadn’t been away from The Vale of Strange for longer than a minute. This book is a roller coaster ride the whole way through as new adventures come to Peter and Amanda.
Peter and his Uncle Bob are called to the big old house at the top of the hill to assist a new family when all manner of strange events and mysterious people begin to appear. Guatemala (Mala) is a girl Peter’s age that lives with her explorer father, Mr. Flipper, and her Uncle Percival Crow. Who knew that excavating a swimming pool would bring about a trip to The Vale of Strange for Peter and Mala, with a disgruntled Amanda?
Grimly Darkwood skillfully moves ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ along at a breath-taking pace as it sweeps us into a plot that keeps the reader both interested and intrigued. The previous characters continue to add humor, snarky attitudes, and moral correctness to a story with many twists and turns. The new characters add their own qualities of loyalty, persistence, and excitement. The author’s vivid imagination, exceptional story-telling and brilliant writing make this a fantasy novel you will recall in years to come. The novel is bizarre enough for readers to enjoy the creativity of the author and expect more from this country that is trying to find a solution to their “strange” problem.
Many thanks to Peggy Jo Wipf for that review.
What about you? Have you read ‘Stranger Days’ yet? If so, what did you think of the book? Do you agree that it was like a rollercoaster ride? Or was it more like being on a Big Wheel? Or gently drifting on a lilo under a cloudless blue sky into shark-infested waters? Do write and tell us what you thought…
‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ is available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle.
“Another fab book. If you’re looking for a quick read with lots of strange adventures I highly recommend this one, and it really doesn’t matter what age you are.”
Many thanks to Mani of the ‘Mani Reads and Reviews’ blog for her very enthusiastic review of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’! I’m really pleased that she enjoyed this second book as much as she did the first. You can read the whole review on her website here.
I’m especially pleased to hear that Mani’s five year old nephew ‘loved all the silliness and the strange creatures’ too. The age range of our readers seems to be expanding all the time. At this rate we’ll soon be hitting a hundred between the oldest and the youngest. Either that or my calculator needs a new battery… (If any 105-year-olds are reading this, please get in touch.)
Have you read The Shop on Peculiar Hill? How much did you learn from it about life on the edge of the Vale of Strange? Now there’s a chance to test your knowledge in the brand new Goodreads ‘Shop on Peculiar Hill’ Quiz. Here’s a sample question to get you started:
Where do bogeys live?
a) In Boggy Hollows
b) At the Strange Hotel
c) Underneath your bed
An ideas? If you knew the answer to that one (or even if you didn’t) you can take the whole quiz here at Goodreads. It’s fun to do and it’s a very sensible idea to check your knowledge to make sure you’re taking the right precautions against all the various monsters. Otherwise you can end up trying to fend off a heeble-greeb with￼ a bowl of glop.
And if you haven’t been to Goodreads before, you might like to take a look around while you’re there.￼ It’s a good place to go to ￼get recommendations for books￼, chat about what you’ve been reading with friends,￼ and even to write reviews so you can share your thoughts about what you’ve been reading more widely.￼ Rather annoyingly, though no doubt for￼ very good reasons, you have to be 13 or over to be a member at Goodreads, but if you’re too young at the moment, this may be one of those times when a parent comes in useful. ￼￼￼ They might be able to ask for book recommendations on your behalf and it might be a really worthwhile project for ￼you to help them write a review of The Shop on Peculiar Hill or even Stranger Days – if only to keep them out of mischief for a day or so.￼
You can also help them to answer that quiz of course. Here’s another sample question before I go:
￼What is Aunt Maggie’s lucky day?
c) Every other Friday
You’ll find more questions – and all the answers – over at Goodreads...
And don’t forget to wear that hat!
(The Good Reads links above take you to the quiz. The main Good Reads page for The Shop on Peculiar Hill is here.)
Best Wishes to you all for a Strangely Happy New Year in 2020 from us all here at Grimly HQ!
Here’s your checklist of Really Important Things for the New Year:
1) Are you new to The Vale of Strange? Then make sure you get your copy of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ the first book in this remarkable series, on Kindle for the bargain price of only 99p (UK) or 99c (US) or for a similarly small amount if you live elsewhere in the world. Note: if you’re on Kindle Direct you can read it for free!!
Ian Eagleton, Creator of The Reading Realm app, said: “Thrilling, dark, utterly barmy, funny and surprisingly moving… if you haven’t read it already, please do. What a hidden gem!”
Joanne Owen, Reviewer at lovereading4kids, said: “A riotously imaginative feast of fantastical adventure with lashings of larger-than-life characters and curious goings-on.… Brilliantly bonkers.”
2) If you’ve already read the first book, have you got your copy of the newly published sequel, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon UK, Amazon.com and other Amazon sites worldwide.
John Guy Collick, author of the Book of the Colossus series said: “Stranger, more peculiar, and utterly delightful, Grimly Darkwood’s sequel to ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ perfectly combines outlandish scares with adventure and wild imagination”
Radzy Writes and Reviews said: “In honesty, as soon as I’d finished ‘Shop on Peculiar Hill’, I was desperate to get my hands on ‘Stranger Days’ – this is a world with absolutely no finite end point, and I hope this series just keeps going.”
3) Having bought your book, don’t forget to read it!
4) Having read it, please let us (or someone else) know what you think about it! We’ve had almost entirely good feedback on the books so far but it takes a lot of banging and shouting to get the message about them out there. So please do a favour to all those who haven’t yet heard about the Vale of Strange books by helping to spread the word.
5) Most important of all: there are bogeys about – please don’t forget your hat!
If you are one of the many who have only just discovered the Vale of Strange books, you may not have ￼read this interview with their author Grimly Darkwood. Grimly was in conversation with Ian Eagleton who is the developer of the excellent app for iPad ‘The Reading Realm’. This app encourages children to read with games and quizzes. An extract from the first Vale of Strange book, ￼’The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, is one of the texts which Ian has used in his app.
The conversation took place a few months ago and the interview appeared on The Reading Realm site in November, shortly before the publication of the second￼ Vale of Strange book, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. It’s really worth a read if you haven’t seen it. Here’s a brief extract in which Grimly describes what he hoped to achieve when he started out writing the books:
￼“In writing The Shop on Peculiar Hill, I wanted to produce a book that was funny as well as scary, mysterious as well as exciting, and fun for adults to read as well as for children. I hope readers will think I’ve succeeded.”
You can read the whole of the interview here.￼
If you read one of the Vale of Strange books over the Christmas holiday, don’t forget to write and tell us what you think of it or send us your impressions of the Vale, either in print or in pictures. You are also welcome to send in any questions you have about the books. ￼￼We always love to get feedback from you.
And finally, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Grimly HQ!
Oh yes, and don’t forget that hat….
Just to ring the changes a bit as regards pictures here on the blog, many thanks to John Guy Collick, author of the galaxy-spanning Book of the Colossus series, for sharing this photo of his paperback copy of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill on desk display...
Now that all the Kindles have been sieved and measured as they were downloaded through the great colander in the sky, we are able to report that almost a thousand people (yes, almost a thousand!) took advantage of the splendid offer of a free e-copy of The Shop on Peculiar Hill. This being so, it seems likely that some of them have been smart enough not only to grasp this remarkable opportunity with eager fingers but also to find their way here to the premier source of knowledge of all things Grimly. One of them may even be you, in which case welcome along!
This is indeed the place to come to keep up-to-date with all the latest developments in the world of the Vale of Strange. You may wish to check back here from time to time to make sure you’re not missing anything. Alternatively, if you’re as smart as I think you are, you’ll prefer to automate the process by putting your email address in the little box on the right-hand side of the page, the one labelled ‘Follow Blog by Email’. It will not surprise you to learn that this will sign you up to get email notifications of new posts here on the blog.
But of course, communication is a two-way thing. Extensive scientific experiments have proved that shouting at the top of your voice is a totally useless means of communication if no one is listening. So I wish to assure you that, for our part, we are sitting here with our ears sticking out of our hats (which Aunt Maggie assures me is perfectly safe as long as no bogeys are flying around), ready to capture your faintest whisper and place it on the conveyor belt which carries it up to what passes for a brain here at Grimly Central, where a conglomeration of brain bits (to use the technical terminology) will convert it into the message you wish to transmit.
Or to put it another way, tell us what you think and we’ll be listening.
Have you finished reading that book yet? What do you think of Peculiar Hill and the Vale of Strange? Would you like to live there? Who is your favourite character in the book and why? If you have just read ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, are you keen to read ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ next? What do you think is going to happen next? What would you like to happen? What is your favourite monster in the Vale of Strange? Do you think there are some more in there that we haven’t discovered yet?
And if any children – or indeed adults – would like to send us a drawing based on the books, we should be very interested to see it and perhaps share it here on the blog. Our artist, Pete Lyon, has shown us what he thinks the humans and monsters look like. What do you think?
You can contact us via the ‘Contact Grimly’ page, a link to which you will see on the right-hand side of the screen. In the case of any difficulty using the ‘contact Grimly’ form, just use the email address which is given on that page or leave a comment on this post. We’re really hoping to hear from you!
(If you do send us drawings and/or your thoughts about the books – and we very much hope you will – we’ll assume you are happy for them to be published in this blog unless you tell us otherwise.)
Of course, if you haven’t finished the book(s) yet then keep on reading – and keep on wearing that hat!
One last reminder: you can also keep up to date with events in the Vale of Strange by following us on Facebook and/or Twitter – see the links on the right….