Feedback on Stranger Days

Where did the summer go? All that budding of flowers and buzzing of bees and mountains of biscuit crumbs piling across the patio…. I find myself wondering why biscuit crumbs can’t be recycled. Why can’t we empty them into a bag at the end of the summer and take them back to the shop and get some cash back for them like we used to be able to with lemonade bottles back when I was a lad. That was the sort of thing they used to do when Peter lived at the shop on Peculiar Hill.

Which reminds me to tell you: before all that buzzing and booming began I had wanted to spread the word here about all the latest feedback we’ve had on the books. You know the ones I mean. The Shop on Peculiar Hill and Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, the books which describe how Peter came to live with his aunt and uncle on Peculiar Hill and all the strange creatures he met there.

You may remember that the second book in the series, Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, had reached the Finals of the very excellent Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards and what I meant to share with you, before all the buzzing and blooming and other summery whatnots got in the way, was that it received some very excellent feedback Indeed.

The book was entered in the 9 to 12 year old category and received feedback from 15 children in the relevant age group plus their teacher. Here are the results..

Star Rating : (as voted for by the fifteen children) 5 Stars

Points were also awarded out of 10 (or, in the case of the cover, out of 5) for each of the following: Editing 10/10, Writing Style 9/10, Content 9 /10, Cover: 4/5

Of the 15 readers,
15 said they would read another book by this author
13 thought the cover (by Pete Lyon) was good or excellent
14 thought the book was easy to follow
15 would recommend this book to another reader to try.

Of all the readers,
4 thought the author’s strongest skill was ‘writing style’
5 thought the author’s strongest skill was ‘developing the characters’
6 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘plotting the story’.

14 felt the pacing was good or excellent.
15 thought the author understood the readership and what they wanted.

Readers’ Comments: ‘I think this is a very odd book. But I liked it anyway. The author has a crazy imagination, so I was often surprised by what happened next.’ Boy, aged 12

‘I think Peter and Amanda are the best two characters in this story. This novel would be good for 11 or 12 year olds who like fantasy books. It’s very funny too, which I loved.’ Girl, aged 11

‘The children in my class of 11 year olds thought this was a very funny book. They liked the cover, which made them want to read it. Most of them hadn’t read the first book, but it didn’t seem to bother them very much. From talking to the children who read it, they thought the author had good comic timing and a wild imagination.’ Primary school teacher, aged 55

‘This is a good adventure story with fun characters and lots happening.’ Girl, aged 10

To Sum It Up: ‘Wild, unpredictable, and very, VERY funny. A FINALIST and highly recommended!’

So, there we are then. This is Grimly back again and I have to say I’m happy to settle for feedback like that, even though we didn’t win any actual prizes. It almost makes me want to snuggle up for the winter and finish writing the third book in the series.

What’s that? Yes, of course Peter and Amanda will be in the third book, and Mala as well (possibly two of her even! – I think you’ll like that bit especially) and Uncle Bob and Thinglifkin and various bogeys and some brand new characters too. But hold on a moment: don’t get too excited! – the first thing I have to do is remember where I put my pencil…

(Please see the home page for more information about the Vale of Strange books and where they can be purchased.)

Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill – FOR FREE! (one day only….)

Special offer – One Day Only! The Kindle edition of my exciting, funny fantasy adventure ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, a finalist in this year’s Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards, is available FREE! This is the second book in the series but it works fine as a standalone novel if you are new to the Vale of Strange.

‘Stranger, more peculiar and utterly delightful,’ says John Guy Collick, author of the ‘Book of the Colossus’ series. ‘Perfectly combines outlandish scares with adventure and wild imagination.’

This special offer is available at Amazon stores worldwide. Make sure you don’t miss out!

The Wishing Shelf Awards

Great news from Grimly Central! Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, the second book in my Vale of Strange series, has made it into the Finals of The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award! The book is in Category 3, books for 9-12 year olds, and you can see all the contenders in that category here

There are links to purchase all of the books and you should find some great ones amongst them because the great thing about the Wishing Shelf competition is that the children’s books are all judged by real children. So they are books that children actually like, not ones that someone older thinks they ought to like.

The winners will all be announced on April 1 (or thereabouts) so, if you don’t already own a copy of Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill, now is the time to purchase yours. Then you can say “I told you so,” if it wins an award!

Just to remind you what the book’s about: In ‘Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill’, Peter returns to the Vale of Strange with his new friend Mala, hoping to find her father, the hapless explorer Augustus Flipper, who has disappeared in a sudden outbreak of strangeness.

Peter and Mala have to grapple with a number of difficult questions. Why is the unpleasant Percival Crow building a swimming pool even though he never takes a swim? Why have the mysterious four-foot-high bearded Australians taken against Uncle Bob? And what has produced the lights in the sky and the multicoloured bubbles of strangeness all across Mala’s lawn? Peter suspects that something big is happening here. If only they could rely on the reluctant Amanda to help them…

Stranger Days is the sequel to The Shop on Peculiar Hill but it works fine as a standalone book if you haven’t read the earlier one. Here’s what some of the reviewers had to say:

“The author’s vivid imagination, exceptional storytelling and brilliant writing makes this a fantasy novel you will recall in years to come.”

“Absolutely loved this book. Very funny, exciting, and a real page turner. Can’t wait for the next.”

“Weird and wonderful escape from reality. Genuinely new and surprising in its inventiveness.”

“In all honestly, 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!”

Well, those reviewers seemed to like the book, didn’t they? Do you agree with them? If you’ve read the book, write in and tell us what you think. And if you haven’t read it, this could be the ideal time to get a copy…

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…