A World of Words

Reviewing children's books

Interview with Ruth Silver

I’ve just posted a review for Aberrant, which you can read here. Below is an interview, spotlight and giveaway with Ruth Silver, the author. Thanks for your time, Ruth!

Having read the story, Aberrant seemed to me to have hints of The Hunger Games and Brave New World. Did these books influence you at all? If not, did any other book inspire you?

I can’t say Brave New World had any influence because I haven’t read that book yet! The Hunger Games did have some inspiration in getting me to read a lot of YA dystopian fiction. Another book that influenced me (not so recently but in general) with world building and infertility was A Handmaid’s Tale. I read that novel in college and I absolutely loved it. At the time I had no idea a dystopian genre even existed.

I love dystopias, and thought the worldwide infertility, as well as the government choosing a partner for everyone, were both brilliant. Where did you get those ideas from?

The idea is a columniation from around the world, personal experience, as well as creatively. For example, most people by now realize China has the one child rule. How far away is our world from saying “you have one child, that’s great, but if you have any more, we’ll take them away”?

There are people that already suffer infertility, for a variety of reasons. Often, we as a society implement the use of vaccines, especially in preventing disease and now even cervical cancer. Of course the vaccines are all safe and approved by the relevant authorities for the country you live in. I decided to think a little further ahead, and a little darker. What if it was an epidemic where everyone was required to get vaccinated and testing had been shortened or barely done at all? It might take years to see the full outcome of infertility and at that point, the government might be forced to step in, to prevent our entire species from becoming extinct.

As for the government choosing a partner for everyone, book two will delve into that a little more deeply on the reason for it. Spoilers for book two: I will say it has to do with genetics. If the government was forced to help people conceive children and do so in a lab, why not insist on putting people together that would further benefit society? A sort survival of the fittest, chosen by the government.

I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts that I think there are two types of dystopia: the far-removed kind (we hope!), like Aberrant, and the kind that could happen in 50 years or so if things went badly wrong. If any dystopian issues were to affect us in the not-too-distant future, what do you think these are most likely to be?

Disease could definitely be one of them. You hear in the news about SARS and H1N1, these epidemics that exist and you see how easy it is to transmit the disease with airplanes commuting between different countries and continents. A Biologist I was friends with right after college, she used to say it was only a matter of time until a disease wiped out a huge percentage of the population. I never wanted to consider it, no one does, but it’s a possibility and probably the most likely as a dystopian issue.

I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. Can you give away any teasers of what to expect for Olivia and Joshua?

They are definitely going to have their ups and downs, as a couple but don’t give up hope because I always love happy endings!

 Speaking of the rest of the trilogy, when will the next two books be released?

I wish I had an exact answer for that question. Right now book two and book three are rough drafts. Book two needs a lot of work, since I changed some plot points in Aberrant, now I need to fix those changes in the second book, Moirai. I do think Moirai (Aberrant #2) will be released in 2014 and am estimating book three will be released in 2015.

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About Ruth
Ruth SilverRuth Silver is the best-selling author of the YA dystopian novel, Aberrant, which is the first in a trilogy, released on 27th April 2013.  Silver first began writing poetry as a teenager and reading heaps of fan fiction in her free time.  She attended Northern Illinois University in 2001 and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication.  While in university she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004.  Her favourite class was Creative Writing senior year, where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories.  Her love of writing led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia.  Silver enjoys reading YA novels and sharing her favourite books with other readers.  She also enjoys photography, traveling and of most of all, writing.
 Check out Ruth’s FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and website, if you want!
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Review policy

Since I’m starting to review books that have been given to me, I thought it best to put a review policy here. I wasn’t sure what to put, so I used this blog here as a template.

First of all, it needs to be said that I promise to give a completely honest review, but this does not mean positive.  If I don’t like it, I’ll say so.

What kind of books do you accept for review?
I read a variety of books, but for the purpose of this blog they should be designed for readers aged 18 and under, although I don’t mind reviewing New Adult books.  I will consider anything, although so far it has just been fiction. Please note that if you’d like me to read a book that isn’t the first in the series and I haven’t read the previous books, I’d be grateful if you could supply the previous books for me to read, as otherwise it may take a lot of time/money that I don’t have.

What about e-books and audiobooks?
I’ll happily accept paperbacks or e-books suitable for a Kindle (that’s mobi or pdf). I’ve never tried listening to an audiobook before, but I’ll consider it.

What should I do before making a request?
Have a look around the blog, and see if you like the reviews I’ve written for other books.

What if I don’t hear from you?
I’ll always try and get back to you with something, at least. If not, I may be on holiday or have other things going on. If that’s the case, leave me a comment on the blog and I promise I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

What do you do other than reviews?
Generally, that’s all I’ve done so far, but I’m happy to host author Q&As and giveaways (once I’m not so poor!).

What if you don’t like the book?
I do my best to accept only books that I think I will enjoy. However, I honestly review every book that I read, and my acceptance of a review copy does not guarantee a positive review. In cases where I didn’t enjoy a book as much as I thought I would, I always do my best to describe my reasons in such a way that my readers can draw their own conclusions about whether or not the book would be a good fit for them.

What if you really don’t like the book?
In the very rare case that a book and I don’t get along to the extent that I can’t finish it, I will make every effort to pass it along to another reviewer for whom it might be a better match. I will also occasionally hold giveaways to pass along ARCs that I have already read and reviewed. If you would rather I did not re-send your review copy, please let me know this when you send it.

Where will your review be posted?
All reviews will be posted here, as well as anywhere else that’s requested – usually Amazon and Goodreads.

When will your review be posted?
I’d prefer it to be flexible, but if you have a date in mind I’ll arrange a rough date when I’m contacted – I’m fairly flexible!

Okay, I’ve read this page. How do I submit a request for a review?
Thanks for looking at my blog, and thanks for asking! If you’d like me to consider reviewing a book for you, please contact me by e-mail at kayleighreviews(at)hotmail(dot)com.

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Moving house

I’ve been so busy this week, having finally moved out of my parents’ house (again!). They’re moving house too, so we’ve been through the loft and I’ve ended up re-discovering many children’s books. They take up a shelf and a half of my bookshelf. I was expecting them to take up more space, although I haven’t finished yet and I left books that Caitlin, Lewis and Harry could read at my parents’ house. Obsessed, me?!


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It’s World Book Day!

As you may have guessed from the imaginative title of this post, it’s World Book Day today in the UK. For any readers not from around here, schools (especially primary) generally encourage children to dress as their favourite character from a book. Then, every child gets a £1 book token to spend within a certain amount of time either towards a book over £2.99, or in exchange for one of the World Book Day £1 books for that year. This year the books are:

Alfie’s Shop, by Shirley Hughes (2+)

Giraffes Can’t Dance Colouring and Puzzle Fun, by Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees (3+)

Horrid Henry’s Guide to Perfect Parents, by Francesca Simon & Tony Ross (5+)

Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders: Funny Inventions, by Tony Robinson & Del Thorpe (7+)

The Diamond Brothers In… Two of Diamonds, by Anthony Horowitz (8+)

Hang in there, Bozo, by Lauren Child (9+)

Tom Gates: Best Book Day Ever! (so far), by Liz Pichon (9+)

The Chocolate Box Girls: Bittersweet, by Cathy Cassidy (11+)

I think I’ve pretty much been on all sides of this one – as a child, a (trainee) teacher and now as an aunt (although the latter is obviously not as good as being a mother!). I’ve never been brilliant at fancy dress, so as a student I’ve previously come dressed as Pippi Longstocking (although I haven’t read those books yet!), and as a teacher, dressed as a (non-green) wicked witch of the west, from The Wizard of Oz. Bad costumes aside though, the day I’m referring to when I was a trainee teacher was actually by far the best day of a really stressful training course – children were encouraged to build reading forts under the tables, hold mini-performances in groups, and generally have a lot of fun with books. I wish there were more days like that, to be honest!

In honour of World Book Day, I’m reviewing one of its eight ‘£1’ books.

Giraffes Can’t Dance, by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Reesgcdance

ISBN: 978-1-40830-370-2, £2.69 from Play marketplace

Now every year in Africa
They hold the Jungle Dance

Where every single animal
Turns up to skip and prance

A best-loved, rollicking, rhyming story – perfect for little ones.

I must admit, this book got a little overlooked, because I bought it at the same time as the Dr Seuss books I previously blogged about, and Caitlin and Lewis went straight for those. However, Caitlin loves both giraffes and dancing, so even though I’ve only read this story to her once, she thoroughly enjoyed it and still knows which book I’m talking about a few weeks on.

First off, the illustrations in this book are, I think, the best I’ve seen. When the warthogs started waltzing and the lions danced the tango, neither Caitlin nor I knew what the dances entailed, but we could see from the pictures. And as you can probably see from (my bad photo of) the front cover, the contrasting colours are amazing! Every illustration stands out and makes the story even better.

Not that the story needs to be better, though. Gerald the giraffe’s height makes dancing too awkward for him, and at the beginning of the book he finds himself being laughed at at the Jungle Dance by the other animals. However, he comes across a cricket who reminds him that:

“‘Sometimes when you’re different
You just need a different song'”

I really loved the message that this sent across. Gerald is reminded that everyone is different, and so has different strengths. It reminds me of the saying that says something like if you tell a fish to climb a tree, he looks stupid; watch him swim in water though, and he’s a genius. Children can really take away the positive messages and use it to build their self-confidence – not that they’ll be thinking of it like that, obviously!

The story is written in 4-line poems, with an ABCB rhyme scheme, which really set the rhythm well in a story about dancing. From my point of view, this made it really fun to read aloud, as well as doing all the funny voices of the laughing animals. From Caitlin’s perspective, she loved the fact that most of the story could be acted out. From gently swaying necks to rock ‘n’ rolling rhinos, there was a multitude of things for Caitlin to engage with, and she really enjoyed it.

Thoroughly recommended, for adults as much as children!

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Somebody gave me an award today!

I got a comment on my Hunger Games post from Ms Nose in a Book today, saying that she’d nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award, which I’m really chuffed about! Here’s how it works:

1) Display the Beautiful Blogger award on your blog
2) Announce your win in a post and link back to the blogger who awarded you with it
3) Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers
4) Drop them a comment on their site/blog to let them know you awarded them
5) Post seven interesting things about yourself


* * * * * * * * *

Soo, here goes with the blogs:

A Wordless Blogger
Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane
The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say “Shhh”
“Read it, Daddy!”
A Year of Reading
Dalton’s Drivel
Mr Ripleys Enchanted Books
What Danielle Did Next
Pain and Triumphs – this is my best friend’s blog. She’s only written one post so far but she always gets a mention from me!
Words, Pages and Books
Kid Lit Frenzy
Mother Daughter Book Reviews
Boys Read
Readful Things

* * * * * * * * *

Interesting is such a subjective term and I am just a ‘normal’ person, but I’ll try my best!

1) I have a PADI qualification to scuba dive up to 12m.
2) I can’t watch 3D films as I’m blind in one eye.
3) When I was 13, a poem I wrote won a Harry Potter competition – I got a signed copy of the first Harry Potter book, as well as seeing the first film in Leicester Square cinema.
4) I love family history and, at one point linked myself to William the Conqueror! I’ve since deleted loads to make sure everything’s accurate though.
5)  As a child, my dad once threatened to make me sleep in the garage because he caught me reading when I should have been sleeping… again!
6) I surprise people with my sense of humour – they expect me to be quite boring/innocent, but I’ve been told I have a very dirty laugh!
7) I tend to drive my family and closest friends wild because I hum a lot. I have got a lot better though, in my defence!

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Where the books are

I’m on the coach to Bristol as I write this, so please excuse any bad formatting and lack of links – I’m using my phone! It’s National Libraries Day today though, so I’ve been reading, and I couldn’t resist!

I used to go to my grandparents’ house every half term as a child. Those memories include Baffins Pond, where we’d always go, trips in the local area (the historical ones were my favourite), going to see Poppa when he was a tour guide at Forts Purbrook & Widley, and many others. A fond memory is being taken to the library when they were holding children’s reading sessions; they’d have dress up days and get everyone involved. I remember a time when I dressed up as a pirate and told everyone my name was Jane. I was an odd child!

Maybe it’s because I don’t have any children of my own, but I never hear about events like that any more. Small libraries have limited opening hours, and just in general they appear to be fading out of social consciousness, which is a real shame.

I recently enquired to the library in Coulsdon about starting up, or helping with, a Chatterbooks group. The librarian told me that there hadn’t been much interest when they’d started one before, so it was probably better to contact a library like Purley. I’m not blaming anyone in mentioning this; I just thought it sad that, in an area where there was numerous primary schools nearby, no children were attending.

This is such a shame. Part of what I love about children’s books is doing all the silly voices and seeing the kids engage. I remember loving being read to, and also loved talking about books. That won’t have gone away.

Does your local library still do events like that? In this time of e-books and technology, what can be done to revive the library?


Choices: Book or e-book?

How do you prefer to read, with an eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or with an old school paperback in hand?

Kindle or book? That’s not as simple as one or the other. However, letting sheer numbers speak for themselves, I definitely voted e-book. There’s always room in my handbag, I can accessorise (etsy is awesome), and (on a weird note), handling a Kindle doesn’t make my hands completely dry. Then there’s the shopping. Apart from the fact that I spend far too much money on several “small” purchases, I love the fact that so many books are within my budget, and I can experience the work of budding authors.

I will always love books: as the original post (to which I’m responding) mentions, having our favourite books on the shelf is like a work of art. I think I will always have books in my house – a library if I can – but I’m enjoying my easy access too much to be restricted just to paperbacks now. Don’t get me wrong, I still explore the dusty old bookshops – it’s a lot of fun! – but I now have a virtual bookshop to explore.

The way I see it is that we’re lucky to have access to both – why go for one or the other? If I’m reading, I’m happy!

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