Friday, 5 August 2016

Blog Tour: Guest Blog Post + Review: The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison (Children's, 11 years +, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

July 2016, Simon & Schuster Children's, 352 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Summary from Simon & Schuster
What happens when a tale with real magic, that was supposed to be finished, never was? This is a story about one of those stories . . .

Midge loves riddles, his cat, Twitch, and – most of all – stories. Especially because he's grown up being read to by his sister Alice, a brilliant writer.

When Alice goes missing and a talking cat turns up in her bedroom, Midge searches Alice’s stories for a clue. Soon he discovers that her secret book, The Museum of Unfinished Stories, is much more than just a story. In fact, he finds two of its characters wandering around town...

Nayu's thoughts
The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison, Children's, 11 years +, 10E/10E (This scary seeming story is magically written!) I mean it. At the moment I prefer lighter reads, but wanted to take part in this blog tour because I've enjoyed some of Michelle's other book. When I first started this one, I was quite worried because the prologue seemed dark. If the book and been at that level of scariness I wouldn't have been able to read it. I confess  to leaving the book a few days until I was ready for what lay within it.

It didn't take long before I was caught up in Midge's tale, forgetting he was a boy too. I loved Tabitha, as a cat lover I'd like one who talks (even have one in a wip that needs finishing), plus liking the idea of what sounded like a changeling taking the real Alice's place I wanted to review it. I'm so glad I kept going through the parts I wanted to stop at, because I got so attached to Gypsy that I was upset at the end. I'm not saying what happens, I just wanted Gypsy to stay in Alice's world. Gypsy (& Alice) goes through a lot of hardship, firstly because she lost her voice, a tale that is revealed later in the book. I felt sorry for her (probably a bit for Piper) because she was in a strange world that she didn't fully understand. With all the magic not even Midge fully understood his world. Thankfully oer people knew snippets of what was going on so Midge was able  progress in the hut for Alice. The creep factor increased when he was able to contact his sister for help, but thankfully I was able to keep reading.

There are so many unexpected twists that I didn't have long to worry about creepy parts because something soon intrigued me. I honestly was going to give this a 9/10E, due to the weirdness of t, but the end is so spectacular I actually want to reread it, which is a pleasant surprise. So it got full marks because there's no doubting how engrossed I was while I read it. I like hoe the way it ends leaves room for another book for Alice, hopefully that one will be from her point of view. I loved all the ideas about writing stories, the facts about writing (like getting frustrated over not being able to get a scene just right), I think writers as well as non-writers will get a lot out of this book, being able to relate to the issues the real Alice faced. I'm certainly hoping my cat will speak to me one day-she likes scrambled egg so liking tea isn't that unusual (Tabitha the cat likes tea).

Find out more on Michelle's website.
Along with the proof copy I got a cute die-cut handmade from Michelle: there are
5 designs, and I'm guessing not that many were made! 
I love it!!! So very me ^o^ Now it's time for Michelle, no, Alice's writing life!

A Day in the Life of Alice

I didn't mean to, but I've done it again. Stayed up all night writing, that is. I was wondering why I felt tired when I realised morning was breaking through the skylight. I say writing – ha. (An unfunny 'ha'.) I've looked through my notes – again – but I'm still stuck, stuck, stuck. I just can't figure out what happens next in this story. I'm starting to think calling it The Museum of Unfinished Stories was a bad idea. Like an omen, or a curse. I don't need any more of those. I feel like I could sleep for a week. All I want to do now is go to bed . . . but I need to get breakfast on and make sure Midge leaves for school on time. Sleep can wait.

Dozed off at the kitchen table. Not sure how long for but the tea I'd made was stone cold. I won't bother making more. I think I'll go out for lunch and try to get some writing done at the coffee shop. A change of scenery might help me get over this writers' block. The house is too quiet without Mum and Midge around, anyway. Some days the silence is what I need. Other days, like today, it feels like a shroud. Hey, that sounded quite good! If only the words came that easily for important stuff, like my story, and not just this diary.

Wrote a few sentences in the coffee shop before all the college kids came in for lunch. After that it was too noisy, so I left and wandered round town. They're already building the pyre in the town square for the Summoning, although it's not for another three days. A few Likenesses have started popping up in people's gardens and windows, too. It's such a weird custom of Fiddler's Hollow; making these little dolls of people in the hope that they'll be Summoned to you so you can ask them a question. I mean, where did that even come from? Midge is right – it's pretty creepy.

On the way home I saw a gorgeous skirt in a shop window – just the sort of thing Gypsy would wear. There I go again, thinking about my characters. That's how I know this story is good. I can't stop thinking about it. I have to finish it. And not just because it's good, but because . . . well. I saw a black cat on the way home. For a moment it seemed as though it were watching me.

So the sentences I wrote earlier are utter rubbish. I've scrapped them. Maybe I should bin the whole damn story . . . but I can't. Maybe I just need a break. I could make a Likeness to take my mind off it. The trouble is, there's only one person I'd want to Summon, and that's J.P. . . .
But I'd been too scared to ask him the question that matters. Deep down I know the answer: he's never noticed me. I wonder if he'd ever notice if I got my story published . . . or about how one of the characters looks just like him. Even though the name, Johnny Piper is different, it's still his initials. I can feel my face burning at the thought. No – if I ever get published I'll use a pen name. Some identities need to stay a secret . . .

Mum's working late, again, and Midge is in the shower. I took the fortune cards out from under Mum's bed. I love looking at them: all the fairy tale pictures of gingerbread cottages, and Pied Pipers, and spinning wheels. Mum must have loved them once, too. Why else would she still have them? Maybe she'll give them to me, one day. I'm the only person who looks at them now, even if the only futures they predict are my characters'. 

Tonight, even the cards aren't helping me figure out a way forward. It's been five days now since I wrote anything new. Maybe that doesn't sound a long time, but it feels like it when you're staring at a blank page. I feel it building again, starting the same way it started last year. Seeing shadows at the edges of my vision, like people moving. People who shouldn't be there. Next it'll be the voices, and after that . . . 

I just checked the window. The street is quiet now and it's dark out. No one's about, no neighbours . . . or anyone else. 

I'd better get writing and make sure it stays that way.

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