A Proud Inkpot Hero

Inkpots-HeroesI’m just whizzing in quickly to say hello everyone, and quickly wave my little ‘YAY!’ flag. This week I was very very proud to receive the accolade of becoming one of the first Inkpots Heroes, alongside the incredible Sophy Henn, Nick Sharratt and Neill Cameron (Comics Book Club).

To say I was over the moon and overwhelmed is an understatement. The work Inkpots do to support and encourage young writers is incredible and to be able to support and help them achieve this in any small way is a huge pleasure for myself. But isn’t it always so lovely to get a thank you anyway? So thank you right back to my dear friend Gill from Inkpots for including myself in this, and for tirelessly supporting Book Monsters in return. Also, look at that gorgeousness of a logo, which I will have proudly plopped onto Book Monsters!

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The Joys of Writing!


Book Monsters is generally all about the books, where would we be without books? We wouldn’t have such a great opportunity to escape into other worlds, to learn, to share, to improve our vocabulary and develop our imaginations!!

In truth, where would be without authors? Or writers? We would be bookless!! Oh my!!
So, we need fantastic organisations, projects and teachers to nurture writers and writing skills and our authors of the future.

At Book Monsters HQ this week, I was fortunate enough to interact with two such writing inspirations!

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Happy New Book Year!


So, it’s 2017 and Book Monsters has had a very quiet end to the year. Crazy, busy, up and down life got in the way of books, I know that’s a horrifically terrible thing for a Book Monster to confess to, but it’s true I’m afraid. I’m sorry.

This is the beginning of a brand new year, something, which in the past, I admit to not really welcoming into my life. But for 2017 I sense good things, I have good feelings, and I’m grabbing those feelings, bunching them in my arms like a big pile of lovely books, and running with them! Sprinting even!

My aim is to be better. Better at life generally. Better at drawing, design and writing. And, most importantly for this corner of the internet, better at reading and blogging about reading.

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An ode to art doers and art viewers.


I’m just sneaking sheepishly into my BOOK blog to make an apology for the lack of books lately!! Here’s why. You see, over on Twitter, some crazy custard started a thing. This human renamed October to Inktober and challenged people to post an ink drawing every day throughout the month. This year, I decided, with foolhardy abandon, to take part.

Well, it’s been a bit of an eye opener if I’m honest. I’ve always been a frustrated artist. I’ve always wanted to be able to sketch, but just found it SO difficult. Most of my artwork, therefore, has been computer based. It’s my comfort zone, feels safe. My computer will help me straighten wonky lines, get the perfect colour or allow me to duplicate elements so that I don’t have one huge bulging eye and a tiny creepy one. Actual, real life drawing daunts me. Once marks are on the paper, it’s not that easy to remove them, even with ALL the expensive erasers!!

So, over the past month, I committed to the challenge of inktober, and most importantly and most frighteningly, posting every single one publicly on Twitter, Instagram and (when I finally got the courage) Facebook, regardless of how good or bad they were.

I chose to do all my drawings in one notepad so I couldn’t keep practicing them (my expensive erasers are now just stubs!!!), and as a result have been forced to post a lot of drawings that I’ve been quite unhappy with, or really hated in some cases. But here’s the funny thing, in every instance, no matter how good or bad, people have greeted my inktobers with warmth and enthusiasm, lovely comments, likes and sometimes been prompted to share their own stories. Every single comment and nice reaction has gone into my heart and given me the confidence to try a little harder. To maybe not worry quite so much about achieving perfection, or trying to become as good as the great ones I happen across daily.

And, interestingly, my most successful inktobers, were not the best drawn ones, but the ones that were inspired by people I love, even if I didn’t actually mention the people in them. It seems that when you inject a piece of yourself into your art, it makes a splash and causes a beautiful ripple effect.

I know many authors and illustrators through blogging, and I quickly witnessed that so many artists, whether story writers & tellers, poets, musicians or illustrators are fighting constant self doubt and inner criticism. Despite appearances creative work doesn’t come easily to ANY of these people. They work bloomin hard at it, and I realised that just maybe they question themselves as much as I do.

Taking part in inktober has taught me that art does not have to be flawless, we may not always be happy with what we produce, but if it evokes feeling, or smiles, or memories in even just one person, then it has done a good thing!

So thank you, to all those kind people who have liked, shared, commented on any of my inktobers, or just generally egged me on. I love you for that. The self doubt monster will always lurk on my left shoulder, but on my right are people who will occasionally gag it, and to those gaggers, I’ll be more grateful than you’ll ever know. :)

Just a few more days to go, and book blogging will resume as normal (I have missed it and have an exciting book backlog). However, thanks to inktober and good friends, drawing will also continue!

So, if you ever come across some art, in whatever form, which makes you react, laugh, smile, cry or feel, then please, if you can, tell the creator, whoever they are. I believe, in fact I know, it will mean a lot.

I will, sometime soon, be adding a page to Book Monsters, showing all of my inktober efforts, good and bad, so watch this space for that if you’re curious.

Thank you for reading this. Book people, authors and publishers, thanks for bearing with me while I’ve played with pens!


Kickstarter Joys


This is a quick post, an intermission I suppose, as it’s not an ordinary book review.

This is about Kickstarter. I’ve back a few projects on Kickstarter over the years, it’s a brilliant way of supporting local, and not so local, individuals and organisations to get their projects off the ground. Projects generally offer various rewards and incentives depending on how much you pledge, which can be as little as £1 up to many many £s! There are levels to suit every budget, and it really all makes a difference.

From a Book Monster’s point of view, there are tons and tons of book themed projects on Kickstarter waiting to be backed by you. I’m going to look at just two of them today.

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A-Blog-A-Day-Holiday …


I’m sat here, nursing a coffee and contemplating a week off work from the library. I will miss work, I miss the library, but I won’t miss the early mornings, and I will relish some time to catch up with things and people.

My week is already filling up with exciting people meeting, but I decided, mainly because I’m really behind on blogging and I have a pile of exceptional books that must be talked about, to post a blog a day for the next seven days! This is a real mini challenge for me. Writing blogs isn’t something I rush, it’s important to me that they are as good as they can be to the best of my ability, and I’m slow at that. But to have some potential time to catch up is a really thrilling thought.

I may fail at this. I’m not sure what this week will throw at me, but, I’ve decided it doesn’t matter. It’s about sharing as many amazing books as I can in one week. It’s about trying. As the late GREAT Roald Dahl rightly said, it’s about passion!

Wish me luck. And watch this space for some, frankly, brilliant children’s books! I’ll be posting links to my daily reviews right here. Hopefully at least seven of them. Starting Monday, eek! First, I have a flat to clean …

Thank you, as always, for reading.



DAY 1, Blog 1 – For Nostalgia’s Sake.



Day 2, Blog 2 – Speechless.



Day 3, Blog 3 – Smart About Wild Animals!



Day 4, Blog 4 – The Building Boy



Day 5, Blog 5 – Dreamer: Saving Our Wild World




Day 6, Blog 6 – Mr Mustachio



Day 7, Blog 7 – Cogheart



A Gift for National Book Lover’s Day


So, apparently, August 9th is National Book Lover’s Day!

I’ve loved books for a very long time. Pretty much all of my 35 years in fact. Though I think I developed a real love of reading when a primary school teacher said to my Mum that I wasn’t reading enough (!!!). Well,I just took that as a challenge and I spent a summer, down in Plymouth, with the help of my Grandma, reading everything I could get my hands on, just to prove this teacher wrong! I loved books before then, but after, well, the literary flood gates opened.

I remember fondly as a teenager entering into the world of “grown up” books, how great it felt to read Of Mice and Men my first adult book and then the love of my life, Jane Austen.

Books are a huge part of my life, from reading them, to now, being fortunate enough to work among them all day long in a children’s library, and then come home and blog all about the fantastic ones I get sent from publishers. It’s a life swimming in books, and what a lovely life it is.

In the image above, is a small selection of my top favourite books. It’s quite a mix, from children’s titles, to art and comic books, classics and short stories. It’s all about variety as far as I’m concerned.

Books have given me so much over the years, the gift of emotion, escapism, relaxation, excitement, adventure, empathy and hope! So, to celebrate National Book Lover’s Day, I’m going to give away one of my favourite lovely titles to one lucky reader. You have until midnight tonight to retweet the pinned post from my account @BookMonsterAlly on Twitter, or comment on this blog post. I will message the winner with a choice of my favourite books to pick from and I’ll send it to you, as a gift, from one book lover to another.

What are you waiting for? Go do stuff!!


For the love of Non-Fiction


I am aware, that my blog, as well as many others and media in general, is biased towards fiction books. In some ways, that’s to be expected as the number of fiction releases outweighs the number of non-fiction. However, I am really aware that I’m not appreciating the joys of non-fiction nearly enough here on Book Monsters! They are an absolutely vital part of children’s book publishing.

We have the obvious, homework and extracurricular learning support. Not everything can be covered in schools, by teachers. It’s important children have the opportunity to read non-fiction outside of school in order to develop their knowledge further.

Boys! I don’t like to stereotype boys and girls, as there is certainly not a one rule for each. However, non-fiction is brilliant for boys. Take my brother for example, as a child he wasn’t interested, generally, in reading fiction. He wanted to get something out of reading. He wanted to gain knowledge, for his reading time to be worthwhile and well spent, but he also wanted to be entertained. The Horrible History books provided him with hours of fantastically productive, yet funny, reading. I’ve experienced many similar boys over the years in my work at the library who really thrive on reading non-fiction.

Reluctant readers. Or even children who struggle with their reading, can get a lot from non-fiction. They can be much more accessible, less text heavy and the age range they suit much more wide spanning so children don’t feel self conscious choosing a non-fiction title, like they maybe would reading an ability appropriate fiction book.

In short, our celebration of non-fiction has been woefully lacking. Rarely do I see a non-fiction category in children’s awards, or non-fiction nominated alongside fiction. It’s a huge shame, particularly as 2015 / 2016 has seen some of the greatest factual book releases for a very long time.

So, from here on in, at Book Monster’s HQ, I pledge to fly the flag for the great non-fiction! If you come across something you think deserves to be blogged about, or have released a non-fiction book that you’d like us to review, please feel free to get in touch for my consideration, I would love to get more on here.

I have amassed, thanks to the lovely publishers out there, a collection of some spectacular non-fiction new releases for children, so over the coming weeks, I’m going to be blogging these wonderful titles like crazy. So keep an eye out for those,  and please share.
For the love of non-fiction! :)

Thank you.


Tommy V Cancer – Zombies & Copy Cat

Tommy V Cancer

Welcome to the Book Monster leg of the #TommyVCancer blog tour. I was glad to be able to post my blog on Father’s Day because, although Tommy’s battle with cancer has been heartbreaking to read, among it all his blog post about his son Arran really touched me. It is incredibly heartfelt and caring and showed what a wonderful father this man is. Please do take the time to read it here:
– TommyVCancer Blog – Arran

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