Boro Books 4: The Little Church by the Sea by Liz Taylorson

Happy new year, blog readers! And what better way to start out a new year than with a brand new Boro Book! You know how much we love our local authors so we were proper chuffed when we were introduced to Liz Taylorson’s debut novel, The Little Church by the Sea. 

little church by the sea by liz taylorson

Isolated and unwelcome in the picturesque seaside village of Rawscar, Reverend Cass Fordyce has lost her faith and her home. Christmas is coming, and she isn’t looking forward to it. Then she meets attractive local man Hal – twice divorced and with a reputation as a ladies’ man he’s everything that a celibate vicar like Cass should avoid… especially as Hal is hiding secrets of his own, including his past with the mysterious Anna. Can Cass ever find her way in Rawscar? What secret does Hal have to hide? And is there ever such a thing as a truly fresh start?

Love Middlesbrough Lass Emma is your reviewer today, so over to you Emma…

I was sceptical at best for this book given that it is set at Christmas and we all know Christmas media is mainly cheesy romance that just gets boring after so long. I was still willing to try it out – even more so when I heard it was about a female vicar… this was new. I also found the amount of foul language in this book – used the same way I would – quite hilarious; I think anyone would if it came from a vicar!

My favourite part of the book is the main character. Cass – the female vicar for a small fishing village turned holiday retreat – is possibly one of the most well written female characters placed in regular modern day life. She is sarcastic, caring and most importantly, human. She isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and the only time she is referred to from an aesthetic viewpoint is in reference to her dog collar or lack of it. I like the lack of physical description, it leaves more to my imagination. She is also a bit of an outcast from this town – being an incomer to the town rather than a local.

Locals to Middlesbrough and surrounding areas may see some parallels between the small, fictional town of Rawscar and our local area. There’s even a reference to our favourite Captain Cook!

I have to say, there are some major plot twists in this book that just keep you hooked – I’m not saying any more though; you’re just going to have to find out yourself. By the third chapter I was kinda hooked, and I spent almost every bus journey reading this. I really recommend this book for those looking for an alternative winter read – even though it’s labelled as a Christmas book it could totally be read any time of the year.

liz taylorson

Liz Taylorson is an amazing author who has painted a realistic view of life and women rather than things being perfect and women always looking amazing. This book is super realistic and explores real problems in real people’s lives – such as unlikely friends, losing faith and hating your small hometown. The book explores so much that it’s impossible to write in one blog post – so just go read it!

Buy the book on Amazon

Boro Books 3: The Disappeared by Amy Lord

We’re back with another Boro books post and we’re super excited about this one! We know, we know, we’re super excited about them all, but what can we say? We love books, we love Boro, it’s a win-win all round! And this one is pretty special – not only do we know Amy from Ten Penny Dreams from when she joined us on our Instameet, but there’s a way for you to be part of this Boro book, yep, YOU! Intrigued much? Read on to find out more! 

The first thing we’re going to do is let Amy introduce herself to you all and tell you about her book, The Disappeared. When we can’t contain our excitement levels, we’ll pop some comments in which will probably be accompanied by lots of exclamation marks, because that’s just how we roll. Over to you, Amy. 


Amy Lord

My story is a little different to some authors: my debut novel will hopefully be released next year, by the crowdfunding publisher Unbound. But first I’ve got to raise enough money to make that happen, by encouraging potential readers to back my campaign [that would be you, dear blog readers…]

Most people have been surprised to learn that you can publish a book via crowdfunding, but it’s becoming more and more common. Unbound was one of the first publishers to crowdfund all their books.

It means that they can release books on a wider range of subjects, or from new and unknown authors [Boro books for the win!], or books on very niche subjects that might not otherwise be published. Crowdfunding also makes the reader a part of the journey – by supporting an author’s campaign, they help bring the book to life [we are DEFINITELY on board with this].

Some very popular books have been released this way and one of Unbound’s novels even made the long-list for the Man Booker Prize!

My novel, The Disappeared, imagines a future version of the UK run by a military dictatorship. After terrorism destroyed the government, the First General took over, slowly stripping away the rights of his citizens.

It’s in this crumbling world that Clara struggles to get over the disappearance of her father when she was just 11-years-old, after he was arrested by the Authorisation Bureau for teaching banned books to his students. She too becomes a teacher and decides to fight back against the regime, but the only weapons she has are the banned books her father left behind. And when one of her students disappears, she is plunged into a nightmare, afraid that she might be next.

[Cue levels of high excitement as we get to show you an exclusive extract from The Disappeared below!!!]

“That last night with my father was like every other. He returned late from his job at the university, where he lectured in English Literature. Public transport was unreliable in those days, when the regime was still taking hold. He would walk the five miles home each day, carrying his bag, heavy with papers. I would watch from our sixth floor window as he made his way across the car park, past the burned out shells of old hatchbacks, where the braver children would sometimes play army, machine gunning each other with sticks or old bits of piping. His ragged hair would take on a life of its own in the breeze, his thin shoulders tensed beneath the weight of his students’ words, twitching uneasily at every fake bullet that came his way.”

I first had the idea for The Disappeared over a decade ago, starting to write it properly in 2013. Since then it’s been through more than half a dozen drafts and picked up a Northern Writers’ Award along the way.

One of the biggest changes I made was to beef up the character of Clara’s stepfather, a Major in the Authorisation Bureau and the man who arrested her father. Clara and the Major take turns to narrate the story, but it’s his voice that turned out to be my favourite. Writing from the perspective of the villain really allowed me to get under his skin and show him as a real person, with his own desires and fears, not simply the bad guy who the reader can hate.

Crowdfunding the book has been an experience so far. It’s been exciting and nerve-wracking all at once, but it’s such a thrill every time someone pledges to the campaign. It’s especially exciting to see a name I don’t recognise and know that someone has chosen to buy a copy of my book based on the description alone.

[We don’t normally make a habit of stating the obvious, but for any of you needing to buy a special, unique Christmas present for that book lover in your life, what could be better than supporting an author?! Think of all those brownie points…]

Find out more about The Disappeared, by Amy Lord and all the details/options for how to pledge your support via Unbound


To get to know Amy better and stay up to date with all her exciting news we recommend checking out her blog, Ten Penny Dreams. She blogs about books, writing, travel and life in the North East. We love it so obviously we’re going to tell you to go and have a read. And you guessed it, of course we’re desperate to read The Disappeared! Come on you pledgers, go go go! 

Boro Books 2: The Lost Sons of the West by A.L. Buxton

You’ve probably guessed by now that we’re not shy in telling you how much we love all things Boro, and this year particularly, how much we’re loving Boro Books. We’ve been so lucky to be in contact with some real-life local authors who have shared their books with us and we’ll let you in on a little secret – Love Middlesbrough Lass Emma is currently reading Boro Book number 3 (review coming soon)! 

I’ve always thought that being an author must be a pretty cool beans kind of job, and it’s even more fascinating when there’s a story behind how someone became an author too. Step up ‘The Secret Author’ also known as A.L. Buxton – don’t worry, we didn’t let the cat out of the bag – the Gazette revealed all way before we did  😂 but it’s such a brilliant story, we couldn’t resist sharing! Writing 90% of the book on his loo breaks at work before heading home to write it up properly – Anthony Luke Buxton, Secret Author, we salute you! #respect

The Lost Sons of the West tells the tale of young swordsman Gideon Destain and his brothers as they face loss, heartbreak, pain and treachery in war torn lands. The book has been described as epic and I would totally agree with that. There’s battles and blood and flying swords and ripped armour galore, all topped off with descriptions of long-haired, strapping heroes heading off into, well, even more battles! From where I stand, that’s pretty flippin’ epic indeed! 

I should probably have started out at the beginning by saying this genre/type of book is definitely not one that I’ve read before. It took me a while to get into the flow of all the epic fighting and heroic rescues, but once I did, I was definitely intrigued to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next to the brothers and if they survive everything that was being thrown at them (trust me when I say, that is a WHOLE lot of stuff)!

By the time I reached the last page and a half (especially the last paragraph) I actually shouted out Nooooooo cos it ends on such a massive cliffhanger and clearly I’m going to have to read the next one to find out what happens! As I said earlier, this is not my usual genre of book so forgive my amateur comparisons but I would describe it as part The Three Musketeers, part Hunger Games (the selection battle definitely!), part Lord of the Rings (the long journeys and wanderings of the brothers) and the rest medieval battles (and gore!) galore! Oof! If that brilliant description is not enough to make you rush out and buy it right now, then my job here is over! *chuckles*

Secret Author AL Buxton

Obviously you all want to follow the Secret Author on his socials, which you can do via Facebook or Twitter, cos you’re going to need to know when the second book is published! And of course the most important information: you can buy the book via fab, local publishers Sixth Element, or Amazon. Happy reading! 

A big thank you to Anthony and local publishers, Sixth Element, for kindly providing us with our copy of the book. The surprising discovery of the year has been that  books about epic battles are actually kinda cool! 😂 Any suggestions for what I should read next…? 

 

 

Boro’s Top Ten Books!

News just in! The polls have been counted and we can finally reveal Middlesbrough’s Top Ten books, as voted by YOU! We’re so excited ❤️

In case you don’t know what we’re talking about, catch up with all our Boro Reads posts first:

What exactly is Boro Reads?
Boro Books part 1: The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper 
Meet our young bloggers! 
Our young bloggers tell us THEIR favourite book  
Superheroes in Boro?! 
Middlesbrough Libraries staff talk books! 
The Love Middlesbrough Lasses take on the summer reading challenge!  
The day our young bloggers met a real life author! 

So now you know how much we love books…it’s time to let you know what the Top Ten Boro books are *drum roll*

  1. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  2. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
  3. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  4. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  5. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  6. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  8. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
  9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  10. Holes by Louis Sachar

The reason we’re so excited about the top 10 books being announced is that they are going to be turned into beautiful book benches that you’ll be able to visit (and sit on!) in Middlesbrough’s community hubs and libraries! 😍 

Book bench

And it gets better than that – children in Middlesbrough are being invited to take part in the creative workshops to help design and decorate the benches…wahhhhhh! Where do we sign up?! Ha! Just kidding – you don’t have to sign up at all – children of all ages are welcome and there is no need to book a place. 

The first workshop will take place at Central Library on Tuesday 10th October (3.30-4.45pm) where any children taking part will bring (are you ready? We can’t even breathe, we’re so excited!) HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE to life. HARRY POTTER! Cue complete and utter fangirling from the Love Middlesbrough Lasses. 

Harry Potter

The next workshop is at North Ormesby Community Hub on Thursday 12th October (5.15-6.45pm) where children taking part will design a bench for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 

alice in wonderland

We can’t wait! See you there!! 

Our young bloggers become authors!

Today is massively exciting – our young bloggers are working with one of the Love Middlesbrough Lasses’ favourite authors: Roxie Cooper and they’re writing actual stories! We can’t wait to share them with you…but more on that soon. 

First we’re going to let you in on a secret. Seven secrets actually – the magic ingredients that you need to write your own story! Here we go:
1. Set the scene
2. Create the main character
3. What does the main character want?
4. Create your baddie/villain (our favourite bit!)
5. ACTION!
6. The lesson
7. Happy ending…? 

Of course there was cake.

caterpillar cake

And without further ado, here are our amazing young bloggers’ stories!


Emma

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

My alarm blaring in my ear, I lazily reached out for my alarm clock. Bingo! I hit snooze first time! 10- minutes later…it went off again. I decided (reluctantly) it was time to get out of bed. I sat up in my very purple bed and looked around my very minty room. My walls were mint green but my curtains, duvet set, beanbag, cushions, were all purple. I shimmied down from my top bunk, and, as usual, flopped onto the bottom bunk. It was sooo much more comfortable sleeping on the top bunk.

I was about to turn the handle and walk through the door when I suddenly had an idea. I opened the door, slipped out, and lowered myself into a back bend. I ran (if you could call it running) into my older brother Zac’s bedroom. I lifted my arm and tapped him on the shoulder. He woke up and saw me upside-down, my curly, chestnut coloured hair dangling in the air, my green eyes staring straight at him! He screamed and threw a book at me! It hurt, but I was too busy laughing to worry about the pain.

“What are you doing? You scared the hell out of me! I wish you couldn’t do that!” he yelled.

“I could shoot an arrow at something on your head next time if you want. With my feet! Get up!” As I walked down the hallway, I spotted a picture of Gran. Oh, I wished wished WISHED Gran was here. I want her back so so much.

RRRIIINNNGGG!

“Uuggghh!” I sighed, plodding over to my phone. “Jessi.” Jessi was so annoying, especially seeing as she was so pretty. She was the captain of the basketball team, which I sooooo wanted to be. I picked up my phone and the hell video started.

“Hey everyone, what’s up? Don’t forget, basketball tryouts today, so practice your BUTTS off, losers. Oh, and by the way Sofie, don’t even think about going for captain. I’M the captain, and if you try to take that from me, you will regret it. Bye, have a good day!”

LATER THAT DAY

“Good morning students, and welcome to the basketball trials for St. Helena school team. We have three contenders for captain – Jessi Ellis, Hannah Parker-Kent and Sofie Dossi. These students have shown the most progress over the year. So, let’s see them!”

“Hannah, Hannah, Hannah!” I cheered. Hannah was my BFF, and if I couldn’t be captain, I wanted her to be. I was next – I scored 4 baskets and missed 1. I had a feeling that baskets weren’t what they were looking for. Then Jessi. She scored all 5 baskets. I was doomed.

25 MINUTES LATER

“And our captain for the school team is…..

SOFIE DOSSI!”

I was speechless! I had won! Jessi whispered to me:

“You made me look bad at basketball. Watch your back. You’re going to pay for this.”

She stormed out of the room, but before she left, she threw something at me. I picked it up, and it was a book. A recipe book.

I took it home and studied it carefully with Hannah and Ellie.

“You can do it! You just need to believe in yourself!” said Ellie, beaming with pride.

“Yeah. Believe in myself.” I repeated, still engrossed in the recipe book.

Suddenly, I screamed.

“WHAT? ARE YOU OK!?” yelled Hannah and Ellie.

“Yes! I’m perfect!” I replied. “Look what I just found! Bring me back Butterscotch! I could use it to bring Gran back!”

“How? It’s butterscotch.” Ellie said.

“Maybe it’s magic!” I said. “We need to cook it.”

“But we need… Cedronean vanilla. Where will we find that?” Hannah pointed out.

“Check the attic,” I exclaimed.

CREAK! CREAK! Went the floorboards. We opened the door into the pitch black room…


Holly

Who were these horrid creatures that chased after me every night? “NOOO!” I woke up trembling in my bed, while Lily was trying to comfort me. Where was I? I knew I was in my own cozy house, but why was I in the living room? “There’s so many questions I could asked,” I said. Trying to stand up, I stumbled to go and see mum. “Mum isn’t here,” Lily told me. I felt safe in my house, it was warm and comfy and smelt like there was always someone cooking my favourite food, chocolate chip cookies.

I’m Tyler by the way. I’m a girl but when I was born my parents hoped for a boy so they called my Tyler! I’m adopted now, but I’ve never really known why. People told me that my mum couldn’t look after me, but I don’t believe that because I was an only child and my mum doesn’t have any problems or anything. I have a sister, whose not adopted and she always helps me when I have a dream about swappasites. I know it’s all fake but it’s so realistic and I really want it to stop! Every day I put my mind of it every day but somehow I still have a dream. It’s like a story book that’s in a series which never ends!

In my nightmares there’s these awful looking creatures, a full swarm of them chasing after me ready to kill me. Violently I held up my scratched, muddy fists, you could easily tell I had been pinned down a few times. They made me weak and themselves strong, which was annoyinly mean! There faces were the worst part, they look like every day is halloween! They grey, dirty teeth and there eyes were disgusting all bloodshot and red with no pupils whatsoever!

Anyway carrying on, Lily was by side with a crumpled up piece of paper. I pointed at it and said, “whats the use of that?” She looked at me in astonishment, “Tyler! This! This is a letter from mum!” I feld bad. “A mysterious one!” she whispered.

QDPCTQUFXJ
QTARgHiLTG
aofMNLOXWO
JBOAEGLTCL
SOLNENLEMu
ayBFOLRZRPX

from mum.
                xxx

“Oh,” I said

We went to bed and I started violenty fighting with my nightmare, but not any old fight a proper fist fight. They say the pen is mightier than the sword but I think the sword is mightier than the pen! Swappasites have mighty, herculean muscles and a big swarm. I’ve got little muscles and 4 friends. I dug a sword into swappasites’ chest. “NOOOO!” I screamed as they fired an arrow at me and I sat sweating in my bed with Lily who had an apple and a warm towel in her hand.

“You were sleep talking,” she said shakily.

“I think I’ve learnt not to fight so much I got killed,” I whispered. “Don’t worry,” said Lilly.

I learnt my dreams WERE real after all so I carried on with my every day life when I got what I wanted!