First review for Inside Story!

And it’s a cracker! By Dianne Bates, it was published in Buzz Words magazine today, May 23 2022.

Here’s the full review:

Inside Story: The Wonderful World of Writing, Illustrating and Publishing Children’s Books compiled by Sophie Masson, Kathy Creamer, Beattie Alvarez, and Peter Creamer, edited by Jen Scanlan and Sharnee Rawson (United Publishers of Armidale) PB RRP $29.99 ISBN9780648815457

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Here is an invaluable resource and reference book for aspiring writers, illustrators, editors and designers or anyone interested in Australian children’s books. It is the first publication by the newly formed UPA, a collaboration between two independent publishing houses: Christmas Press and Little Pink Dogs, in association with the New England Writers’ Centre. And what a comprehensive and beautifully designed and presented book it is! Designed by Rae Ainsworth, the book covers all aspects of writing, illustrating, and publishing children’s books. It includes a section on what happens in the publishing process, how to pitch to publishers, alternative publishing models, useful organisations, and resources.

On each page there are coloured photographs and graphics, break-out boxes, and information (and advice) from a wide range of industry workers. Colourful double-page spreads introduce each topic, and there are also numerous lists of children’s books under headings such as picture books, illustrated storybooks, fiction anthologies, graphic novels, and more. Any inspiring author would benefit from the advice and tips offered by authors, agents, editors, publishers, and illustrators such as Stephen Axelsen, Pippa Masson, Ian Irvine, Jenny Blackford, and dozens more.

There is, as one would suspect, a clear bias towards books published by Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, but other publishers shine in the book, too. It’s gratifying to see that the compilers have included poetry collections and anthologies, with advice from editors and compilers. Ursula Dubosarsky, Richard Tulloch and Duncan Ball share information and tips for writing plays, with Ball sharing his discoveries as former editor of The School Magazine.

In the tail end of this very engaging book is a list of useful organisations and resources for everyone, including editors, designers, and publishers. Numerous publishers have granted permission to use images from their titles, and there is a page of acknowledgements to the many people who have contributed material (and crowdfunding income). Interestingly, there’s a double page spread at the end of the book with photographs and biographies of the compilers, editors, and book designers.

There are many hours of interesting reading in this comprehensive book. Highly recommended!

Lovely first review for Sydney Under Attack

Just seen the first review of Sydney Under Attack, and it’s great! It’s by Ashleigh Meikle on the Book Muse blog. Here’s a short extract:

2022 marks the 80th anniversary of these attacks – which makes novels like this poignant and important. They remind us that everyone was touched by the war in some way – whether on the home front, on the battle fields, or through knowing someone affected by events far from where they lived, such as Mrs Stein being unable to help her family escape persecution in Europe. Sophie Masson not only touches on how Nick and his family are affected, but how Jewish people are affected, how people who have family stuck in other theatres of war were affected, and how assumptions about someone based on appearance can change when you get to know the person and understand them, and find out that they’re just a normal person, not a spy at all.

You can read the whole review here.

A new review, and the day of the launch of Butterfly

Today, at 6pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, we are launching A Hundred Words for Butterfly online, with interviews, reading, cocktails and pintxos, games and more! It’s going to be such fun! If you’d like to attend, you can simply join via the Spineless Wonders Facebook page, or register here to get the link. (It’s all free). It’s going to be such fun!

And as a lovely lead-in to tonight’s festivities, there’s another fabulous review of the book, this time on Google Play. It’s by writer Claudia R. Barnett. Here’s a short extract:

Like a flavoursome, aromatic Basque soup, this immersive tale leaves you wanting more. In part, this is due to the dialogue. It sounds authentic – as though you were eavesdropping on a friend’s conversation. And it is brought to life by Sarah Kennedy’s exquisite narration. But the real charm of Masson’s story are her engaging, relatable characters.

You can read the whole review here. And watch the lovely trailer for the book here.

And now, I’m off to start putting together ingredients for the pintxos I’ll be making for tonight, to have with a couple of those celebratory cocktails!

First review of A Hundred Words for Butterfly!

Delighted to say that the first review of A Hundred Words for Butterfly has just appeared, on the Kobo website, which is one of the retailers where you can buy the book. It’s an absolutely lovely review by the fantastic artist Lorena Carrington. Here’s a short extract:

Sophie Masson’s A Hundred Words for Butterfly is a wonderful listen. The relationship and tension between twins Helen and Alex felt very real, and the gently unfurling relationship between Helen and Tony was refreshing and so lovely. And of course the wonderful descriptions of the towns and countryside – and food! – made me feel an intense longing for the Basque Country...

You can read the whole review on the Australian Kobo site and the US Kobo site.

Two great new reviews of The Ghost Squad!

It’s always wonderful for a writer with a new book out to know that readers are enjoying it, and so I’m really delighted to find two new lovely reviews of The Ghost Squad this week. One is at Ashleigh Meikle’s Book Muse blog; the other at Claire Holderness’ Claire’s Reads and Reviews blog.

Here’s an extract from The Book Muse review:

Filled with secrecy and cover-ups, and with characters who have  varying degrees of trustworthiness throughout the novel, to the point where you don’t know who you can trust other than Polly, Kel and Swan.

These relatable characters who are human and flawed drive the narrative, and invite us into their world. It is up to Polly and Swan to find out how to prevent the clandestine factions from controlling people more than they should, and how they go about it and returning to their lives as best they can is told with great gusto and flair, as their world starts to change forever. A great young adult read for teens aged 14 and over.

You can read the whole review here.

And here’s an extract from the review in Claire’s Reads and Reviews :

This book was full of twists and turns, conspiracies, relationships, secrets, danger and action. I really couldn’t foretell anything that was going to happen and it wasn’t always clear who to trust or who to believe. There were plenty of people and factions to be wary of along the way and there were some unexpected allies too.

I recommend this if you are looking for something engaging and different.

You can read the whole review here.

Fabulous advance review of The Ghost Squad!

I was so delighted this week to see the fabulous first advance review, in Books +Publishing, for my YA speculative fiction thriller, The Ghost Squad. The book is released on February 1st, 2021 by MidnightSun Publishing.

With the permission of Books +Publishing, here’s a short extract from the review (reviewer is Stefen Brazulaitis, owner of Stefen’s Books, in Perth)

This is a dynamic and exciting thriller with smart, relatable characters, similar to Sean Williams’s ‘Twinmaker’ series. It’s intense, but without profanity and virtually no violence. Though the death/afterlife aspects of the story are important, its core is about trust, loyalty and the courage to do what is right—even at a personal cost. Although it’s not quite as dark, The Ghost Squad should appeal to fans of Stranger Things and readers of John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow’ books.

Woohoo! Don’t mind at all being in such great company 🙂

First advance review of The Snowman’s Wish in Books+Publishing

There’s a very nice first review of The Snowman’s Wish in Books+Publishing this week, by writer, editor and  bookseller Anica Boulanger-Mashberg. Here’s part of what she had to say:

With The Snowman’s Wish, Sophie Masson and Ronak Taher have crafted a soft tale about the passage of time and the beauty in the world. Mr Snowman, a kindly soul existing happily in an ever-shifting natural environment, welcomes everything around him……..Taher’s illustrations—watercolour in texture, with shapes reminiscent of collage—are an ideal complement to Masson’s careful story of enjoying what is around us and knowing that things will always change. This is a lovely book for young readers aged 3–7 and can be read either at narrative face value or as a way of discussing both the senses and the notion of death.

You can read the whole review here.

The year’s favourite books: Leah Kaminsky

Today I’m delighted to welcome Leah Kaminsky to my blog, to tell us about her favourite book of the year.

My Favourite Read of 2019

FLAMES by Robbie Arnott (Text Publishing)

I love brave, imaginative writing that takes wild risks, and Robbie Arnott’s Flames ticks all these boxes. Weaving magic and stark realism with suspense, he has created a polyphonous novel, that shifts from a generation of women who catch on fire when they are enraged, to a talking rakali and a curmudgeonly coffin-maker. The prose is poetic and fresh, without ever becoming pretentious. Flames captures the beauty of the wilds of Tasmania and calls us to pay urgent attention to both the awe and fragility of nature. A novel very much for our times.

 

 

Leah Kaminsky’s debut novel The Waiting Room won the Voss Literary Prize. The Hollow Bones won the 2019 International Book Awards in both Literary Fiction & Historical Fiction categories and the 2019 Best Book Awards for Literary Fiction.  She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. (www.leahkaminsky.com)

 

https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-hollow-bones-9780143788911

The year’s favourite books: Jenny Blackford

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Jenny Blackford to my blog, to introduce us to her favourite book of the year.

Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life (Doubleday, 2013) is a near-perfect historical novel, full of far more than the standard number of what-ifs through the magic of lives rerun over and over again. It’s also incredibly moving on the horrors of World War Two, particularly in blitzed London. The sequel, A God in Ruins, is even sadder and more beautiful.

Jenny Blackford’s middle-grade adventure novel full of spooky spiders has recently appeared from Christmas Press.