Dr Who Online Review

It’s been a while since we’ve had a new review of the Vale of Strange books, so it’s great to see this very positive newly published assessment of The Shop on Peculiar Hill from Sebastian J Brook, Site Editor of the entertaining and comprehensive website, Dr Who Online. He told me: “I have to commend you on a truly fantastic book. I mean this when I say it’s one of the best Children’s Fantasies I’ve read in a loooong time. It’s up there with Lemony and JKR – seriously!”

What a nice guy! I think I might leave that summary lying around in a few places. You can read the full review here. And while you’re about it, why not stop and take a look at all the latest Dr Who news? (Did you know John Bishop was joining the cast?) There’s a lot to read on there. As Sebastian explains, the site is “bigger on the inside”…

Clever people, those Time Lords…

Shout Out Time…

“Here is your chance to celebrate some brilliant but overlooked books,” tweeted Andrew Rough a few days ago, and many thanks to the ever-supportive Ian Eagleton for choosing The Shop on Peculiar Hill and Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill amongst his responses. He also selected The Tunnels Below by Nadine Wild-Palmer (which is on my Kindle and will probably be even more exciting if I actually get round to reading it, which I am DEFINITELY GOING TO DO NEXT) and also a new book to me, The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas and Erin E Stead.

Ian himself has an exciting week coming up because his own book Nen and the Lonely Fisherman (with illustrations by James Mayhew) is released on June 1 and there’s also an Instagram reading of the book by none other than Stephen Fry on 29 May!

Best Name Ever!

Well, it’s been an up-and-down few days. First, The Shop on Peculiar Hill didn’t make the finals of The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. So everyone here was disappointed for a while. But that didn’t last very long because we won a Red Ribbon award and the feedback we received on the book from the 17 kids who judged it was really good. Take a look:

Star Rating: 4 Stars

Of the 17 readers:

14 would read another book by this author.
12 thought the cover was good or excellent.
17 felt it was easy to follow.
15 would recommend this book to another reader to try.
Of all the readers, 7 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘plotting a story’.
Of all the readers, 5 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘developing the characters’.
Of all the readers, 5 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘writing style’.
16 felt the pacing was good or excellent.
14 thought the author understood the readership and what they wanted.

Readers’ Comments:

“This author has the best name ever!” Boy, aged 8

“I liked this book a lot. I thought the plot was a bit crazy and lots of crazy things kept happening. It was like a rollercoaster!” Boy, aged 12

“Scary animals in the Vale of Strange. Exciting book. I liked the characters. They were sort of larger than life. I thought the cover was a bit messy, but the story’s good.’ Boy, aged 11

“Sort of scary but sort of funny too. I think this writer has an exciting imagination and knows how to write a good story for kids. The best character was Peter. I also like the shop too.” Girl, aged 9 with a little help from her teacher

“Amanda’s cool. She’s the character I would want to be. I laughed a lot when reading this book. I thought it was slow in the beginning but the second half’s a blast. Kids aged 10 – 13 will find this a fun book.” Girl, aged 12

To sum it up:

‘A fun, whimsical adventure, excellent for 9 – 12 year olds. A RED RIBBON WINNER and highly recommended.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

According to the Award’s scoring system, the book got 30 points out of 40. We needed 31 or more to make the finals so we just missed out! So, we’ll be submitting Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill for their next contest – and keeping our fingers crossed…

We’ll have to have a word with Pete about that messy cover though…

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas from all at the Vale of Strange! Stay safe – and don’t forget your hat!

Funny, mysterious fantasy stories, The Shop on Peculiar Hill and Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill – Special Kindle prices on both books! Get them now before they’re gone!

Amazon UK 77p

Amazon US 99c

Congratulations!

Many congratulations to Teresa and her son, who won our recent Halloween competition for a copy of The Shop on Peculiar Hill, my funny, creepy fantasy adventure. We really hope they enjoy the book!

If you weren’t successful this time, you can still buy the book from Amazon of course, along with the exciting sequel, Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill. Both are available in paperback and Kíndle formats, and if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited you can read the books for free!

Here’s the UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shop-Peculiar-Hill-Vale-Strange/dp/1946892165

Here’s the US link: https://www.amazon.com/Shop-Peculiar-Hill-Vale-Strange/dp/1946892165

And there are similar links scattered conveniently around the planet…

A Free Book for Halloween!

If the COVID pandemic is stopping you trick or treating this year, there’s still a chance for some spooky fun! Join in our competition to win a free paperback copy of The Shop on Peculiar Hill! Just visit me @DarkwoodGrimly on Twitter then retweet one of my tweets about this competition and follow me on Twitter.

That’s all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning. And if you already follow me on Twitter, that’s fine. Just retweet and it counts anyway!

The competition ends at midnight on Halloween! Or if you can’t wait and want to get a copy of this spooky, funny, thrilling book right away, you can buy one right now from Amazon:

USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KR17MGT

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KR17MGT

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…

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 – now on YouTube!

If you missed the great reading of The Shop on Peculiar Hill Chapter One by Ian Eagleton, developer of the terrific The Reading Realm app, you can now catch it on YouTube.

The video is set to start at 14 min and 40 seconds in, which is about where Ian starts reading Chapter One, but the whole video is fun. Amongst other things, Ian reads a poem called The Owl and The Pussycat in sign language plus a snippet of my biography!

Ian is continuing to do readings, quizzes etc while the schools are out, about a couple of times a week at 11am, so do take a look at them. If you want to catch them live, you can find them on the Reading Realm Facebook page.

The Shop on Peculiar Hill – Live from The Reading Realm!

There was a brilliant online reading of the opening chapter of The Shop on Peculiar Hill yesterday by Ian Eagleton (developer of The Reading Realm). He really brought the characters to life (I mean even more than they usually are!) I wish I could do all those voices like he can. I particularly liked his Mr Grimble…

Anyway, it’s all still online so it’s well worth a look and a listen. The Reading Realm live readings are going out daily at 11am while the schools are out. You’ll find them on the Reading Realm Facebook page.

As well as the readings, there’s lots more entertainment for kids including competitions, quizzes, and a chance to learn sign language. They produced a brilliant Shop on Peculiar Hill themed activity pack yesterday which included instructions for designing your own version of Evil Island! You can find it – along with a full recording of yesterday’s live event (The Shop on Peculiar Hill Reading included) here.

And of course, don’t forget the Reading Realm app for iPad itself, full of lots of excerpts from books (including The Shop on Peculiar Hill) and fun and games to play around them!