The Excitement is Building!

We still don’t have a definite publication date for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, Book Two of the ‘Vale of Strange’ series. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear, but in the meantime the excitement is building. Here’s a great tweet from Ian Eagleton who has developed the wonderful ‘The Reading Realm’ app to encourage children to read using extracts of text with games and quizzes. The updated app, which features an extract from ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, has just been released today! It’s really great to have Ian’s support for the book, which he describes as ‘one of my fav books this year for children 10+. What a hidden gem!’

As you’ll see from the tweet, Ian is also looking forward to the new book and is going to run a competition to give away a signed copy. Ahead of that, Mani of ‘Mani’s Book Corner’ will be doing a Cover Reveal of Pete Lyon’s wonderful cover for ‘Stranger Days’ on her ‘Mani’s Book Corner’ blog. You may remember she featured a great review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ earlier this year. We’ll let you know when Mani’s Cover Reveal will be – along with the publication date – as soon as we know!

Stranger Days Are Nearly Here!

Hello – Grimly here! It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here and I’ve noticed that a few new people have been viewing this site (welcome!) so I decided I should bring my computer out of the cupboard under the stairs, eject the rats that had set up home in the backup drive, de-louse the keyboard, polish the monitor, hunt around for the password cupboard, wrestle the mouse off the mice, and write you an update on what has been going on around here.

Well, nothing much really, but it’s all going to start soon because I’ve just taken delivery of Pete Lyon’s magnificent cover for ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the sequel to ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ and part two of the ‘Vale of Strange’ series. Pete’s illustration really is wonderful. If you liked the cover of the first book, you’re going to really love this one! It’s a good thing that the ‘Vale of Strange’ paperbacks are larger format than the tiny books which seem to pass for normal these days because that will give you a chance to study the fine detail of the drawing. Even so, you might want to think about buying the Kindle version as well (so you can take advantage of the magnification capability) and to make sure you really appreciate the fine details I suggest adding an electron microscope to your Christmas list.

You think I’m joking? The illustration would really look at its best on the wall of some great public building. You’ll see what I mean when you see it. Maybe the House of Commons would like to feature ‘Stranger Days’? Some might think it appropriate.

I would have shown you the cover here but we’re going to look into the possibility of organising a ‘Cover Reveal’ event in advance of publication. If we manage to set that up, we will let you know here of course.

At the moment, we’re hoping for a mid November publication date, but once again we will publish the details here. If you’re not already following the blog, you can sign up for email alerts in the right hand sidebar. That way, you’re sure to be fully informed of all developments. You can sign up for our Facebook group there too.

That’s it for now then – but don’t forget your hat! It’s autumn now, so this message is endorsed by not only Aunt Maggie but also Uncle Bob. It’s October – almost Halloween – and the bogeys are flying!

(Photo shows Pete Lyon and Grimly Darkwood, on the lookout for bogeys.)

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.)

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!

Audrey’s Illustration

Hello Everyone – Grimly here, and this time we have another contribution from Audrey, the reader who I was chatting with a few weeks ago. This time she has produced this great illustration of a large proportion of the cast of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill‘. Let’s see if you can spot who is who.

Audrey pic Shop

Got it?

No, that isn’t Uncle Bob painted blue with wings on. That’s a bogey, one of the vary rare blue ones in fact. And the green character on the left isn’t Mr Grimble feeling a bit green and sickly after having been accidentally shrunk in the washing machine. It’s a heeblegreeb. But you really knew that, didn’t you?

The next two are easy of course: Amanda looking cool in black and Peter in his new blue jeans, but is that a hot air balloon in between them or could it possibly be a strange tomato on a lead? I think it’s a strange tomato all right. It’s the purring that gives it away!

And finally, the character at the far right hand side surely has to be Algernon, but are those muscles under his T shirt? He looks like more than a match for any strange creatures who come his way. The only thing that worries me is that he hasn’t got a hat. Hopefully Amanda has it safely stashed away in her bag in case the bogeys start fizzing.

Many thanks to Audrey for sending us that terrific picture. I look forward to seeing her illustration of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’ which is due out later this year of course. And in the meantime, if anyone else would like to try your hand at illustrating any of the characters in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, we shall be delighted to see what you come up with. Just remember that if you send any drawings in, we will assume that you’re happy for us to publish them on the blog.

And finally, following on from last time, I decided that yes, I would change the photo of me that goes at the top of the blog. Up there now is one that my friend Lee (Audrey’s grandma) has lovingly photoshopped into submission. Yes, perhaps it makes me look a bit younger than I actually am but I think it also makes me look less scary than the previous photo did. And after all, what with bogeys and heeblegreebs and jamjam plants, there are enough scary things in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ without people having to worry about the author as well, don’t you think?

‘And I’m not really scary, am I?’ I ask the staff here at Grimly Central. But no one replies. They’re all hiding behind their desks.

Ho hum. That’s all for now then, but bear in mind it’s still bogey season so… Don’t forget your hat!