Still time for a Bargain!

I’ve just notified the three lucky winners of the recent competition (run by LoveReading4Kids) to win a signed copy of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill. I’m pleased to announce that there were no fewer than 1585 entries for the competition, so confirming the enduring popularity of my books – at least on occasions where no exchange of funds is required.

If you happen to be one of the 1582 people who just missed out on winning a book, I’m happy to report that you still have a chance to pick up a bargain. The first book in the Vale of Strange series, The Shop on Peculiar Hill, which is the prequel to Stranger Days, is still available as an e-book from Amazon, priced at just 99p UK or 99c US (and for similarly paltry amounts in other parts of the globe). The paperback version is also competitively priced at just £6-99 UK or $9-99 US.

The Shop on Peculiar Hill has become unexpectedly topical since the onset of COVID-19. The young hero Peter finds that his move to stay with his uncle and aunt on Peculiar Hill puts him in an unfamilar situation. He is told that he is not allowed to go out of the house without taking special precautions like wearing a hat and sturdy boots. His aunt and uncle use weird protective concoctions called unge and glop which they put on the dining table and spread in a ring round the house, while Aunt Maggie will never even leave the house without a long pole to defend herself against monsters. Indeed, she never goes out at all except on a Thursday.

How is Peter supposed to adapt to this strange, unfamilar predicament?

Anne-Marie Reynolds at Readers’ Favorite wrote: “The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ by Grimly Darkwood is a fascinating story, much like a dark version of a fairy tale… 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.”

Joanne Owen at LoveReading4Kids said “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.”

Ian Eagleton, Creator of the Reading Realm app, wrote: “Thrilling, dark, utterly barmy, funny and surprisingly moving… if you haven’t read it already, please do. What a hidden gem!”

You can find out more about The Shop on Peculiar Hill here on my website. You can also try before you buy! Read the first two chapters here for free…

Competition Extended to 12 August!

Just when you you thought you had missed your chance, I am pleased to inform you that you haven’t! That’s good news, isn’t it? What could be better than that?

Now don’t get overexcited. I’m afraid that some opportunities have indeed disappeared into the mists of time. You’re still too late to attend the 1966 World Cup football final for instance, which may be for the best, because I have a sneaking feeling that the more times we watch it, the more likely it is that Germany is going to win after all. We’re also too late to be the first person to land on the moon. I can vouch for that because they brought me back an authentic stick of moon rock which had little green men on it and a label which said ‘made in Blackpool’ with the ‘Blackpool’ bit crossed out and ‘the moon’ written in.

So that possibility’s gone as well, I’m afraid, But don’t worry because believe it it not, you are still in time to win the most important prize of all: one of three signed copies of that fantastic work of fiction, ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ because the deadline for entries to the LoveReading4Kids competition has now been extended (by popular demand) to 12 August. So get in now while you’re still in time! Hurry across to LoveReading4Kids to find out all the instructions for how to enter. Those books won’t be there for ever, you know, so don’t miss out!

I understand that if you don’t win a book, you can still pick up a piece of moon rock, though the rumour is that the latest ones don’t come from the moon at all but from a popular range of insolvent garden centres. So that’s hardly the same sort of quality prize as Peter’s mysterious adventures in the Vale of Strange, now is it?

So make sure you win one of those books, personally signed my me, Grimly Darkwood.

And if you win,

a) Don’t forget to read it, and

b) please post an honest review of the book on Amazon, Goodreads, your own blog, or in some other reputable publication, whether in print or online. Most people who read the Vale of Strange books seem to really enjoy them, with lots of five star reviews, but we need more people, kids and adults alike, to spread the word!

More Signed Copies of Stranger Days to be Won!

If you didn’t get lucky in our previous competition, there’s now a new chance to win one of three signed copies of the paperback edition of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, this time courtesy of Lovereading4kids You can find out all about how to enter on the lovereading4kids website here, where you’ll also find the Lovereading4kids review of the book.

This is of course the second in the Vale of Strange series, the sequel to The Shop on Peculiar Hill. Lovereading4kids points out that it’s also a stand-alone novel which works very well even if you haven’t read the previous book. They say: ‘this is an exciting book which will certainly be a page turner for those who love all things weird and wonderful’.

The book is one of the Lovereading4kids ‘indie books that we love’ and also one of their featured books. There’s lots more about the book, including more reviews, on our own special page here and you can read some free sample chapters here. Good luck in the competition!

Grimly Talks about Stranger Days… plus Books to be Won!

Those really nice people at The Reading Realm app called round for a chat a little while ago (when such things were still possible) and Grimly shared a few thoughts about Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, the second book in the Vale of Strange series. It’s a really good interview. You’ll find out all about one of the new characters in Stranger Days, Peter’s new friend Mala; how Grimly says you can save the world by asking questions; and what might be coming up in the third book in the series. You’ll find it all on the Reading Realm website here.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, there’s a chance to win one of three signed copies of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill! To find out how to enter, visit @reading_realm on Twitter.

And before you go, don’t forget that The Reading Realm app is a great resource to encourage kids to read, with lots of games, extracts from books (including The Shop on Peculiar Hill), and tools to help you write and draw stories yourself.

Right then, that’s it… Good luck in the competition, keep safe, and don’t forget your hat!

More Reviews of Stranger Days

As I mentioned in the last post (which was, ahem, a few weeks ago now but then we’ve all been busy not meeting people and not going anywhere, haven’t we?) Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill has been chosen as one of the lovereading4kids Indie Books We Love. This means it features on the front page of their website, and to add to the excitement, it is also one of their featured books for 9+ and 11+ readers this month, listed together with other titles such as Liz Flanagan’s exciting Rise of the Shadow Dragons and the new illustrated edition of Ted Hughes’ classic story The Iron Man.

To celebrate, we’ve updated the Stranger Days page here on grimlydarkwood.com with all the latest reviews, many of them five star including this one that’s just come in from an Amazon UK customer called JG, who says: “Weird and wonderful escape from reality. Genuinely new and surprising in its inventiveness. I should have been warned about the big spider.

I’m glad you enjoyed it, JG. I’m sorry if you were startled by the spider (and actually there were three of them but maybe you looked away at that point) but we did say that the Vale of Strange books contain monsters, I seem to remember, so I would have thought that was warning enough. Ok, they were actually giant spiders with really strange webs and the kids almost ran out of unctuous splodger so Amanda almost got eaten but it seems to me that ‘warning – contains monsters!’ just about covers all that, doesn’t it?

What do you think? Should we put more warnings on Vale of Strange books? In which case, what should we warn about? “Caution – contains Uncle Bob!” maybe? Or: “This book mentions chocolate cake rather a lot” Or even: “This book may disturb the balance of the weirdosphere!” What do you think is scary in the books? Write and tell me….

You can contact me, Grimly, via the ‘contact Grimly‘ page (see link in sidebar) or just email me directly at grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail.com It will be great to hear from you. While I’m waiting, though, there’s something else I need to work out: if something scares you, should I put more of it or less of it in the next book?

(Don’t forget that as well as reading the reviews on the Stranger Days page, you can ‘try before you buy’. Read two free sample chapters here.)

Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill – ‘a LoveReading4Kids Indie Book We Love’

We’re very happy to announce that, like The Shop on Peculiar Hill before it, Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, the second book in the Vale of Strange series, has been chosen by Lovereading4kids as one of their ‘Indie Books We Love’.

Reviewer Charlotte Walker writes “Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill is a new adventure that develops the brilliant ideas firmly established in Grimly Darkwood’s first Vale of Strange book… It follows on from the end of The Shop on Peculiar Hill but recaps the previous events and there’s enough detail for it to be read as a standalone story… After reading, I’m sure children will be racing to enjoy the adventure in The Shop on Peculiar Hill if they haven’t read it already.”

And if you prefer to start reading with the first book, don’t forget that the eBook version of The Shop on Peculiar Hill is still available for only 99p from Amazon UK or 99 cents from Amazon.Com

You can read the whole of Charlotte’s review here.

We’ve also updated our Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill page here on grimlydarkwood.com with all the latest reviews of the book, including this one from an Amazon UK reader: “Absolutely loved this book. Very funny, exciting, and a real page turner. Can’t wait for the next.”

The Shop on Peculiar Hill – Live Reading!

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…

More Praise for Stranger Days…

“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.

Amazon UK link

Amazon US link

Five Heart Review from Mani!

“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.)

The Shop on Peculiar Hill Quiz

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?

a) Wednesday

b) Thursday

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.)