GUEST POST: Genre – What is it exactly? by S.C Skillman

Guest Post

As a writer, I believe we should be willing to explore new areas, and to step outside our comfort zone. And that applies very closely to us as readers too. I read a wide variety of books, both non-fiction, and fiction of all genres. I admit I do like psychological insight but I believe all good writers in every genre should incorporate that in their novels anyway. Continue reading

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Book Review: North Pole Reform School by Jaimie Admans & author interview

nprscover-500What it’s about:

Mistletoe Bell hates Christmas. So would you if you had a name like hers. Her Christmas-mad parents make the festive season last all year, and with another Christmas looming, Mis doesn’t think she can take any more. After her carelessness causes an accident at school, it seems like things can’t get any worse.

Then she wakes up to find The Ghost of Christmases Ruined in her bedroom.

She is taken to the North Pole, to a reform school run by elves determined to make her love Christmas. Stuck in a misfit group of fellow Christmas-haters with a motley crew of the weird and even weirder, watched over by elves day and night, she doesn’t expect to meet cute and funny Luke, who is hiding a vulnerable side beneath his sarcastic exterior. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with him.

But all is not as it should be at the North Pole. A certain Mr Claus is making the elves’ lives a misery, and pretty soon Mistletoe and Luke are doing more than just learning to like Christmas.

CharlooDividerReview:

How pretty is the cover of this book?! First of all, Jaimie is one of the coolest and most down to earth authors I’ve met through blogging and I reviewed Jaimie’s ‘Not Pretty Enough’ and loved it so much I jumped at the chance to review her new YA short story North Pole Reform School. I hope everyone who is involved in the blog tour of this book likes it as much as I did and I hope it’s a big success! North Pole Reform School is about a girl called Mistletoe who wakes up to find herself in a strange, cold, snowy place with no idea how or why she is there. Along with 4 others they learn that they have been brought to the North Pole Reform School due to the fact that in the past they have spoilt Christmas for other people. They meet elves, reindeers and Santa and are given various jobs to do around the North Pole in the hope that they will learn to like Christmas again, get to go home and realise what they done in the past was wrong. Follow Mistletoe in her weird and wonderful journey through the north pole where she teaches a reindeer how to fly, finds unexpected love and learns to true importance of Christmas.

I think someone should send me to the North Pole Reform School because I have to admit, I’m a bit like Mistletoe! However, this book definitely gets you in the mood for the festive season. I absolutely love Jaimie’s writing style. I realised this after reading Not Pretty Enough, it’s so easy to read and follow and I finished North Pole Reform School very quickly. It was a relatively short book but I find that gives you a nice break every once in a while. I’ve definitely grown on short stories because of how fast paced they are. They stick to the storyline, don’t go off track to irrelevant information and they flow easily – which describes North Pole Reform School perfectly. I’m not sure if this was designed to be a love story, but I really like the underlying romance between Mistletoe and Luke. You can kind of see it from the beginning and they’re both young and battling with some personal problems so it’s very sweet and I definitely found myself rooting for them, which is unusual because I normally squirm at romance!

This book definitely must have required a lot of imagination to come up with such a well thought-out, layered and completely made-up world and every single Christmas related thing you can possibly think of was probably mentioned in this book at some point! I love that Jaimie literately thought of everything children would wonder about Christmas, for example, how the toys get made, how the reindeers fly and what Santa is really like. The only small problem I had was that the elves live inside a giant dome in the north pole and they tell the students that there are zombies outside who like to listen to the Christmas songs they play. Although it’s a funny idea and did make me chuckle, the zombies didn’t sit too well with me and I thought they were just that bit too much! However, they’re not mentioned a great deal in the book. Whilst Mistletoe is doing one of her jobs, the elves explain to her how lucky she is to have a family that cares about her and presents to open on Christmas day and that there’s children out there who don’t have anyone or anything and I know it’s only fiction, but those elves make a great point. Even in the real world, there are children out there who have no family and don’t get any presents and children with illnesses who may not see another Christmas and although I don’t think the message was intentional, somewhere deep down it did make me realise that Christmas is important and that I am indeed, very lucky. So if this book leaves you with a feeling of gratitude like it did for me, I definitely think it’s a success!

I am going to give Jaimie a excellent and well deserved 4 cupcakes, enjoy!

4 cupcakes

CharlooDividerInterview:

1. Hi Jaimie! Thanks for answering some questions today. Can you start off by telling us what North Pole Reform School is about?

It’s about a girl called Mistletoe who hates Christmas. She finds herself transported to the North Pole, to a reform school run by elves who are determined to change her feelings towards the season. She’s stuck in a group with a bunch of weirdos, and Luke – one not-so-weirdo who she ends up rather liking! While a gang of elves try their hardest to make the group enjoy Christmas, Mistletoe and Luke end up getting far more involved than they expected!

2. Do you enjoy Christmas or are you more of a Mr Scrooge?

I love it. Seriously, LOVE it! I actually found it quite hard to write Mistletoe because there’s nothing about Christmas that I don’t like!

3. Where did your ideas for North Pole Reform School come from?

Funnily enough, a headline in a newspaper! It was about a window cleaner dressed as an elf, cleaning windows without a harness on. The headline was ‘Elf and Safety’, which ended up being a class that Mistletoe has to take in the book! The smallest things can spark off an idea, and that line put a picture in my head of elves in a classroom, learning the elf equivalent of health and safety, and somehow that got to an idea of elves in a classroom teaching humans, and the whole thing snowballed from there!

4. What is on your wish list for Christmas this year?

A winning lottery ticket? I don’t know, actually! I don’t think there’s anything I really want! Maybe some more books, and the ability to fit them onto my bookshelves! Big fluffy socks are always a winner for me too!

5. Is this book self-published or through a company? What made you decide to take that direction of publishing?

It’s self-published, all of my recent releases have been, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it so decided to do the same with this one earlier in the year. I love the control I have over my own work and don’t think I want things any other way at the moment!

6. What is the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

My first ereader, easily! It was a rubbish, cheap one and promptly died a year later to be replaced by a Kindle, but it changed my reading habits so much! I read loads of books that I’d been unable to read up until then, suddenly I could read US releases that would have cost an arm and a leg to have shipped over in paperback form. It was great, and best of all was that thousands of books didn’t take up any extra space! I loved it, and wouldn’t know what to do without my Kindle now!

7. I mention in my review that I feel there was an underlying message for people to be thankful for how lucky they are when there are children out there who don’t have much. Was this message intentional?

It wasn’t at first, but as I was writing it, I did start thinking about how lucky we all are. The elves needed a way to show Mistletoe and the others how much they have to be thankful for, even if they’re too caught up in hating Christmas to appreciate it. I did loads of research into what children write to Santa about, and the more I went into it, the more I wanted the characters to realise how lucky they are to have families who love them, even if their gran does knit embarrassing jumpers!

8. Who are some of your personal favourite authors that you’d recommend?

I love Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, Melissa Senate, Judy Blume. I can read anything by them countless times!

9. Do you think there will ever be a sequel to Mistletoe and Luke’s story?

I don’t know, but I don’t think so. It was never intended to be a series, only ever a standalone. I don’t have any ideas for a sequel, but I also never say never, because you never know when inspiration is going to strike!

10. When is the official release date of North Pole Reform School and where can we follow the tour?

It’s officially out on November 6th, but will probably be sneakily uploaded to Amazon before that (shhhh!) There is supposed to be a tour in December, the 9th until the 18th, but sign-ups aren’t open yet so I can’t give you the official schedule, although I will be doing a daily tour wrap-up on my blog each night, so it can be followed on there too!

CharlooDivider

jaimieadmans2About Jaimie Admans

Jaimie is a 28-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, drinking tea and watching horror movies. She hates spiders and cheese & onion crisps. She has been writing for years but has never before plucked up the courage to tell people. Afterlife Academy is her third novel and she hopes you enjoy it. There are plenty more on the way!

Website: http://www.jaimieadmans.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/be_the_spark

Facebook: http://facebook.com/jaimieadmansbooks