Winged Reviews A young adult book blog for those a little bit older.

Blog Tour: Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse by Laura Wood

Blog Tour: Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse by Laura Wood

Today I’m so pleased to welcome debut author Laura Wood to the blog to talk about her huge win and the publication of her book Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse. It’s a really great story for all aspiring authors out there, so read on to find out Laura’s unconventional road to publication!

On winning The Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

By Laura Wood

The only thing I had ever won in my life before this competition was two tickets to see the Power Rangers Live. My name was pulled out of the spinning tombola on Live and Kicking and I had entered the competition, in a fit of selflessness, on behalf of my little brother. So when I entered the Montegrappa Scholastic a prize for New Children’s Writing I did not expect to win.

I first saw the prize mentioned by someone on Twitter. To enter the competition you needed to submit the first 5000 words of a book for children aged 8-12 and a one page synopsis outlining the rest. First prize was a publishing deal with Scholastic, agency representation with LBA books, and a beautiful fountain pen from Montegrappa. I had had the idea for my book, Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse in my head for a few years, ever since working as a children’s bookseller for Waterstones, but I had been too nervous to write it down. I think a blank word document might be the scariest thing in the world. When I saw the information about the competition I decided that writing 5000 words didn’t sound so scary, that I could do that and then put those words in a drawer and come back to them when I had time. I very nearly didn’t submit my entry, and I think about that quite a lot these days, how taking that chance and having a go changed my life.

When Lena, my lovely agent at Scholastic, got in touch and said that they were considering putting me on the shortlist and did I have a full manuscript I said ‘of course!’ and then I spent three furious, painful weeks writing the rest of it. I was in a lecture at the university where I work when Lena rang me to say that I had won. I could see her number flashing on my phone but I couldn’t answer. Afterwards, outside the lecture theatre I listened to the message she left asking if I could ring her back and my hands were shaking so much that I could hardly hold the phone. I can’t tell you a lot about our conversation. I know I cried. I think I swore a bit. I asked her if she was joking (several times). I sat outside the lecture theatre for an hour before I stopped shaking enough to drive home.

I still feel so emotional thinking about it now! Since winning the competition so many exciting things have happened. Not only has my childhood dream of seeing my book in a bookshop come true, but Scholastic have asked me to write another book about Poppy’s adventures, and I have just finished the first draft of that. Poppy is also being translated into lots of different languages so children all over the world will be holding my book in their hands. These things are facts but I still find them utterly unbelievable.

The finished version of Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse was released this month and thanks to my designer Sam Perrett and illustrator Beatrice Bencivenni, it is a thing of extreme beauty. Thanks to my editor Lena, and my agent Louise the words inside are pretty good too. They helped me so much, and although the narrative has actually changed very little from my original draft it is a much richer and more thoughtful book because of their hard work.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to be a writer then you should go for it. No one can find you if you don’t put yourself out there. My road to publication was an unusual one but there are a lot of different ways to make yourself heard. Don’t give up! And if you see an interesting writing competition then enter it. I used to think normal people didn’t win competitions but now I know they do. Because I’m one of them.

About Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse

Poppy Pym

Winner of the Scholastic Montegrappa Prize for New Children’s Writing. Poppy Pym has grown up in the circus, eating candy floss for breakfast and learning about lion taming … until her circus family decides she needs a more traditional education, and they send her to boarding school. At first, Poppy has trouble fitting in at St Smithen’s, a school that is very different from the circus. But when an ancient Egyptian ruby comes to the school and dangerous accidents start occurring, it’s up to Poppy to save her new home and solve the mystery of the Pharaoh’s curse!

About Laura Wood

Laura WoodLaura Wood is the winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing. She has just completed her PhD at the University of Warwick studying the figure of the reader in nineteenth century literature. POPPY PYM AND THE PHARAOH’S CURSE is her first novel.

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Bookish Firsts: Matt Whyman

Bookish Firsts: Matt Whyman

Bookish Firsts Banner

So excited to host my first stop for the YA Shot blog tour! I’m excited to host Matt Whyman, who is one of my favourite people and the author of the amazing books, The Savages and American Savage. Matt was super enthusiastic and answered all our questions and a special one on libraries, who are the main beneficiaries of YA Shot!


YA Shot is a one-day Young Adult and Middle Grade ‘festival’ taking place in the centre of Uxbridge on Wednesday 28 October 2015 in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge. 71 authors will be involved in a programme of events (plus book-signing sessions) in the Uxbridge Civic Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. There is also a programme of 6 fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops – one of which I’ll be running! Hope to see you there!

Bookish Firsts

With author Matt Whyman

What is the first book you ever read/remember reading?
whyman-StruwwelpeterI found it while clearing my father’s house recently – stuck together with tape and with pages missing, and yet it still feels like some demonic relic I should leave well alone: Struwwelpeter – a collection of cautionary tales by a German writer called Heinrich Hoffmann in which small children come to sticky ends. Brrrrr.

What is the first book you wrote (can be published or unpublished)?
I started working as an agony uncle for a teenage magazine called Bliss long before my first novel was published. In fact, my first books were advice titles for Hodder & Stoughton. I started with SMOKING, the follow up was called DRINKING and then the climax to the trilogy – DIVORCE & SEPARATION.

What is the first book character you loved?
I have to confess I didn’t read much when I was younger. And if I did, I don’t remember. I was too busy setting fire to Action Men and lobbing them from windows. The first book I truly got into, no lie, is a Joan Collins autobiography. I still love her for that. So, my answer is: Joan.

whyman-hotzoneWhat is the first book you recommend to anyone you meet?
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. It’s a few years old now, non-fiction, but pretty much foretold the ebola outbreak. I gave it to my daughter to read when she was about 13. She’s now studying Medicine at university, and holds that book responsible. It reads like a supercharged thriller, and I recommend it to anyone.

What is the first book you will pack on your upcoming holiday?
I ALWAYS pack Papillon by Henri Charriere. I’ve been taking it on trips for the last five years, and reading about the same number of pages each time. I do love it, even though I don’t read very much.

whyman-angelWhat is the first book you would save if your house was burning?
My signed copy of And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

What was your first signed book?
Apart from the above, I don’t have many signed editions. My wife is in publishing, however, and worked as a rep when we first moved in together. I will never forget our hallway was rammed to the rafters with signed editions of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, who was one of her authors. I literally tripped over those books for months. His signature is pretty much imprinted on the inside of my eyelids as a result. Thanks, Louis.

Who is the first author you ever met?
Good question! I must’ve met a few authors when I first started going out with my wife-to-be. She used to tell me horror stories about how badly behaved some of them could be – ridiculous demands, tantrums and meltdowns. I loved those stories, always aspired to do the same thing, but sadly I was brought up properly.

What is the first library you went to as a kid?
I grew up in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. From a very early age, I made weekly visits to the local library with my mum – who used to borrow records. I just remember wandering between what felt like towering banks of books; terrified that I would be told off for breathing too loudly.

About Matt Whyman

Matt Whyman has written widely for all ages across a range of subjects – in fiction, advice and memoir. His adult books include Man or Mouse, Columbia Road, Oink! My Life With Minipigs (published in paperback as Pig in the Middle), and Walking with Sausage Dogs (Hodder). For teens, he is the award-winning author of titles including Superhuman, XY, XY:100, Boy Kills Man, The Wild (Hodder), the So Below trilogy, Inside the Cage, Goldstrike (Simon & Schuster), The Savages and American Savage (Hot Key Books)

Matt has also written many books under different names. Notably, he serves as literary executive for the reclusive Romanian End Time theorist, folk tale scholar and Carnegie-nominated mystery writer, Lazlo Strangolov. Two children’s novels by Lazlo have surfaced to date – Feather and Bone and Tooth and Claw (Walker). Co-writing with Michelle Misra, under the pen name of Jack Carson, Matt is responsible for the Battle Champions action series for younger readers (Simon & Schuster).

Matt is married with four children, and lives in West Sussex, UK. Find Matt on Twitter @MattWhyman and at

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Blog Tour: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Blog Tour: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


Welcome to the Six of Crows blog tour, celebrating this amazing new book set in the same universe as the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising)! The lovely Leigh Bardugo has done it again, with an incredible heist, gorgeous settings and her trademark excellent characters.

With that in mind, today we are celebrating book boyfriends (and girlfriends) of the Grisha verse, and believe me it wasn’t easy to pick! We have partnered with US blog, Cuddlebuggery, so don’t forget to visit their blog for more book boyfriend goodness. Leigh also shares her picks with us in an exclusive intro and we have an amazing contest where you could win a ton of Six of Crows swag, so read on!

Book Boyfriends (and Girlfriends) of the Grishaverse

Intro by Leigh Bardugo

Thank you so much for hosting the first stop on the Six of Crows blog tour! When it comes to the Grisha Trilogy, readers always ask me, ‘Mal, Nikolai, or the Darkling?’ And my answer is always the same: Tolya. He’s built like The Rock, covered in tattoos, tough, loyal, deadly in a fight, and he loves poetry. Yes, he’s a little bit of a religious fanatic, but in an endearing way.

As for the characters in Six of Crows, I’m going to have to pick Jesper Fahey, Zemeni sharpshooter, for my book bf. He knows how to dress and he once dived head first into a fountain full of champagne. I feel we understand each other. But honestly, though some hide it better than others, each member of Kaz’s crew is carrying around a ton of baggage. They could all kind of use a hug.


Privateer, Prince, basically the best character ever. You only need to read one line he utters to completely fall in love with Sturmhond. Need I say more?


Genya was my first love of the Grishaverse. Gorgeous, confident Genya with a heart of gold. She’s like a silk dress boned with a corset of steel—beautiful and fierce.


A veritable king of thieves, his ruthless, cool exterior hides a damaged man. Forever calculating, Kaz is always trying to suppress his goodness, but it does manage to come out once in a while. He gives me the good shivers.


So sexy and confident, I just want to bask in Nina’s glorious charm and spend the day with her eating exotic foods and luxuriating in red velvet.


Gruff and ruggedly handsome, he’s a man tied to loyalty and discipline. Of course, this makes it even more fun when he loses control…!


Darling Wylan. I love so much his innocence, naivete and his can do attitude. Even though his skills are wildly mismatched, the crew wouldn’t be the same without him!

About Leigh Bardugo

lb-headshot-350Leigh Bardugo is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood, where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

Check out the rest of the tour stops by following the #SixofCrows hashtag. Also, don’t forget to catch Leigh on her #MagicandMayhemTour!



From 24/9 – 29/9, bloggers in the US and UK will be paired up to share their own Six of Crows-inspired lists, such as six tips for surviving the Grishaverse, six signs you do/don’t have what it takes to join Kaz’s crew, and more.

But wait. There’s more! Enter to win a Six of Crows prize pack full of US AND UK swag by commenting on all 12 blog posts by 11:59pm EST Friday, October 2.

So tell me, who is your Grisha boyfriend or girlfriend?

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I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore

I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore

I Am Her Revenge by Meredith MooreI Am Her Revenge
Author: Meredith moore
Publisher: Razorbill
Date: April 2015
336 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Buy the BookGoodreads

She can be anyone you want her to be.
Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.

And she can destroy anyone.
When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago.

Anyone…except for the woman who created her.
With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her.

In I Am Her Revenge, Vivian is our heroine that has been honed into a killing machine by her mother, a woman wronged. The reader learns pretty early on that Vivian has been brainwashed and trained by her mother to enact a revenge that the mother has lived with all her life. Vivian’s mission takes her to a boarding school in England. Her mission, and she cannot fail, is to win the affection of a young man on campus, who is the target.

Ben is the golden boy on the campus, and it is his father who dumped Vivian’s mother years before, and literally broke her heart. Mother is in fact criminally insane, and will stop at nothing to ensure Vivian does what is expected of her. There were some scenes shown during her childhood that did not sit well with me. Vivian seems to have a lot of flashbacks throughout the story and they happen at odd times. It almost seems like too many flashbacks. I had to keep reminding myself what I was reading and what the story was really about.

Flashbacks aside, the first two thirds of the book were kind of boring. The privileged students at the school find ways to entertain themselves with drugs and alcohol, yet there is still drama of a normal high school. The final third of the book is very exciting, with a dangerous attempt to escape Mother and save Ben. The ending is filled with twists and turns that the reader does not see coming.

Meredith Moore impressed me with her writing, which was very well done. I will say that especially in the first half of the book, Vivian wasn’t really likable to me. She was standoffish and annoying. Once she begins to see another side of her mission, she does become a better character. She begins to wonder if what she is doing is for the right reasons. This is a different type of YA story line, and it was necessary to show how Vivian was brainwashed. However, that being said, I do like my hero/heroine to not want me to smack them. This was a very interesting concept but I think the execution could have been a little better, and maybe less flashbacks.

3 Stars

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Illumicrate is open for business!

Illumicrate is open for business!

In case you missed it on social media yesterday, I am happy to announce the launch of ILLUMICRATE, the subscription box for book lovers!


When you subscribe to Illumicrate, you will receive a carefully curated quarterly box with a newly released book and a supply of fun, bookish goodies, like bookmarks, jewellery, stationery, and more!


We only have a limited number available so sign-up soon! The first box is scheduled to go out in early November.

I also wanted to say thank you for all the support to date. It’s been an absolute pleasure and why I love the book community so much! <3

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