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!

Vermilion Sands

Hi – Grimly here! Today I have pride of place in the latest post from Vermilion Sands, the blog of choice for nature notes, reading lists, and weather updates pertaining to the Potternewton area of Leeds.

Looking at this magnificent post, I think I may feel a new masthead photo coming on, as people have mentioned that the current one makes me look rather unfriendly. What do you think? Does my photo on Vermilion Sands look better than the one at the top of my blog?

The only trouble is: I think it may make me look even more like my wretched underling Simon Ounsley, which is always annoying as people keep mixing us up. I may have to put it through my Grimlyshop app to make it look more like me…

Just before I go, I should mention that the nice people at WordPress (the world’s most annoying blog platform) have just informed me that the Contact Us page I set up five months ago isn’t working. So I do apologise if you have tried to contact me through that but have heard nothing back. Please do try us again directly by email. The address is grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com  In the meantime, Team Grimly will scratch our collective heads and see if we can get the ‘Contact Us’ page working. I wonder if a spot of oil might help…

Conversation with Audrey

Audrey

Hello – Grimly here. It was great to have the chance to meet one of my readers recently. Eight-year-old Audrey is one of only two kids who has read not only ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ but also the current version of the second book in the series ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’. By ‘current version’, I mean the version of ‘Stranger Days’ which is the most up-to-date at this particular time. So I’m talking about ‘current’, not ‘currant’, which would be more like a type of pudding.

Perhaps I should start this again.

I am currently revising ‘Stranger Days’ so it is getting better all the time and will be better than ever by the time it is published later this year. I have asked Audrey if she would read the next version when I have completed it to make sure it is indeed getting better all the time and not getting worse all the time, in which case I might have to put some currants in it after all.

I explained to Audrey that ordinary books are the same the second time you read them. “Stranger Days’, however, is an extraordinary book because it will be different the next time she reads it. She thought this was a neat idea. Actually, I think it will end in much the same way, but the way they get there will be different and a bit quicker. It will be a bit like taking the car instead of a train. Except that eventually, I will have to stop revising the book, so each time you read it after that, they will always take the car. Unless of course they decide to take an aeroplane.

I think perhaps I should really start this again…

Ahem.

I asked Audrey which was her favourite character in the books and she said it was Peter. She always likes the main characters in the books she reads because they do the most important things. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it. She also likes Amanda, who is the other main character in ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’ of course. Audrey likes the way she keeps fooling Peter. She likes strong female characters  in the books she reads, such as in the book she was reading that afternoon, ‘Ramona the Pest’ by one of her favourite authors, Beverly Clearly.

Since reading ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, Audrey has written her own fantasy story for a competition. It has five main characters: a small boy named Bill who is six; an older girl called Amber aged nine; two twins aged five –  Sunshine and Moondown – and Lolly who is seven. She has some very good names for characters, don’t you think?

Audrey also told me that her mother uses a taxi company called Speed Cars which promises to get you wherever you are going in 10 minutes. Even if you are going from Leeds to London. Sometimes she uses Uber instead but they will only take her to the house next door.

I think Audrey has some very good ideas for fantasy stories. I think when she gets going, I am going to be out of a job. Never mind – at least there will be Audrey’s stories to read.

I’d better get back to work then,

Thanks again to Audrey!

Bye for now – and don’t forget your hat!

Grimly

(Thanks to Graham James for the photo)

Review by Django

Hi Everyone – We’re pleased to be back with another review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, this time from twelve-year-old Django Ensor, who says:

  • I loved the cute tomatoes
  • I liked all the different strange creatures
  • I liked Aunt Maggie and Uncle Bob’s characters
  • My favourite part was when they went to the Vale of Strange

Django also sent us this brilliant sketch of Uncle Bob’s strange purring tomatoes, pointing out that a purring tomato is likely to look like…. a cat

Django image Purring tomato

Many thanks to Django, who has been one of the first to help us out by reading an advance copy of ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, the second book in the ‘Vale of Strange’ series. The book is still undergoing revision, which is why Grimly is even more grumpy than usual just now, but we hope to have a bit of a foretaste of what it holds in store here on the website soon!

In the meantime, you are warmly invited to send us your own review of ‘The Shop on Peculiar Hill’, complete with an illustration if you wish. Please use the ‘Contact Grimly’ page or email us at grimlydarkwood03 (at) gmail (dot) com

(Please note that by submitting your comments. audios, photos, pictures etc. you are giving us permission to post them online.)

See you soon – and don’t forget your hat!

Yorkshire Post Article

Hi, it’s Grimly here and I am furious. I’m up to my ears in revising the second book in the Vale of Strange series (due later this year) so I sent my minion Simon Ounsley to see this journalist person who wanted to interview me and the next thing I hear is he’s trying to claim he wrote the book himself! This is not the first time he has displayed such delusions of grandeur. I would dismiss him instantly, mark my words, but he’s the only one who knows how to work the cappuccino machine.

You can read the Yorkshire Post article here.