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Archive of ‘Book updates’ category

Awesomely Austen: Pride & Prejudice

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My latest book, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is published today – hooray!

Here’s a little bit about it:

Part of the Awesomely Austen series, this is a fresh, funny and accessible retelling of Jane Austen’s best-known story, with witty black and white illustrations throughout.

Elizabeth Bennet is the second eldest in a family of five daughters. Although their mother is very keen to see them all married to wealthy men, Elizabeth is determined that she will only ever marry for love.

At a ball, Elizabeth meets Mr Darcy, who at first she believes is proud and haughty. But perhaps there is more to him than first meets the eye…

I’ve been a huge fan of Jane Austen ever since I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice aged 12. That year my best Christmas presents were a hardback copy of the book, plus a video cassette of the BBC TV adaptation starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as Elizabeth and Darcy. I watched it so many times I could recite it by heart! My friend Felicity and I were so obsessed we even used to write each other long letters in the characters of Jane (me) and Elizabeth (her).

Given this I was very excited when Hachette Children’s Books asked me if I’d be interested in writing a retelling of Pride and Prejudice for a young audience. The new Awesomely Austen series is illustrated by the brilliant Églantine Ceulemans, with each book retold by a different author. Here’s a little peek at some of Églantine’s fabulous art:


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In two weeks the #AWESOMELYAUSTEN will be out! Jane Austen’s fantastic stories retold by the awesome @followtheyellow (Katherine Woodfine), @katybirchallauthor and @narinderdhami , published by @hachettekids 🥰 and illustrated by me :) Also thank you to my lovely agents who made this project possible @plum_agency @hannahlwhitty 💚 . . . #janeausten #art #design #illustration #retold #janeaustenfan #janeaustenbooks #kidlit #books #childrensbooksmatter #illustrationdaily #feminism #women #strongwomen #watercolor

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Hello there! Here is a little sneak peek from the #awesomelyausten retold by @katybirchallauthor @followtheyellow and @narinderdhami by @hachettekids They will be out the 17th of October! . . . #janeausten #kidlit #art #drawing #illustration #books #bookmatter #fictionbooks #watercolor #blackandwhite #dessin #family #feminism #emmajaneausten #prideandprejudice #persuasion

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The first three books – Emma, told by Katy Birchall, Persuasion told by Narinder Dhami, and Pride and Prejudice by me – are out now, and you can look out for three more Awesomely Austen titles next year. It’s the perfect way to discover Austen for the first time!

Buy Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice now from Waterstones | The Hive | Amazon

Sophie Takes to the Sky

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My latest book for Barrington Stoke’s super-readable Little Gems series, Sophie Takes to the Sky is out today!

Like my previous book, Rose’s Dress of Dreams, it’s inspired by a historical heroine – in this case, one of the first female aeronauts, Sophie Blanchard. In this reimagining of Sophie’s childhood, we discover where Sophie’s passion for flight might have originally begun. Here’s a bit more about the book:

Scaredy-Cat Sophie is afraid of everything! So when a balloonist comes to the town fair, Sophie is left behind while everyone else goes to watch him fly in his marvellous balloon. She’s far too frightened of the crowds, the commotion and even riding in a horse-drawn carriage.

But Sophie longs to watch the hot-air balloon sail across the blue sky. If she could just be brave enough to face her fears, who knows where her journey might take her … A touching tale for young readers of learning to overcome anxiety and follow your dreams.

I’m thrilled that this book has been gorgeously illustrated by Briony May Smith. I’m a huge fan of Briony’s  artwork, and her illustrations for Sophie Takes to the Sky are so full of atmosphere – they perfectly conjour up the setting of this story. What a delight!

If you’d like a little taster of the book, you can check out the first chapter here

You can also download a gorgeous poster with one of Briony’s stunning illustrations (see below) or a colouring sheet to design your own hot air-balloon

Take  a look at my Pinterest board showing some of the visual inspirations for Sophie’s story

And of course you can buy the book now via Waterstones | The Hive | Amazon

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SPIES IN ST PETERSBURG is here!

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The second book in the Taylor & Rose Secret Agents series, Spies in St Petersburg is out now! As I’m currently on maternity leave I haven’t managed to celebrate in quite such an epic way as for my last book (no trip to Paris this time!) but I’ve still been enjoying welcoming this new book into the world.

Here’s a reminder of what you can expect from Spies in St Petersburg:

Following on from Peril in Paris, this new book delves further into the thrilling world of espionage. Sophie is still missing in action after an explosive mission in Paris, leaving Lil to take matters into her own hands.

On a new mission for the Secret Service Bureau, can Lil find Sophie in misty, mysterious St. Petersburg? Can they uncover the identity of their true enemy and can they trust anyone – even the Bureau?

Spies in St Petersburg has more glorious illustrations by Karl James Mountford and although I’m aware I say this for every single book, I really think these might be my favourites yet!

Check out this post I wrote for the Egmont blog about how I visited St Petersburg to research the book, which includes lots of photographs from my Russian adventures. And take a look at my Spies in St Petersburg Pinterest board full of visual inspirations here.

I’m already enjoying seeing all the responses to the book online, including quite a lot of reactions to the book’s ending which just might be a tiny bit of a cliffhanger…

You can order Spies in St Petersburg now from Waterstones , The Hive or Amazon and  add it on Goodreads

Announcing… SPIES IN ST PETERSBURG!

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It’s time to reveal the title and cover for the second book in the Taylor & Rose Secret Agents series! I’m thrilled to present Spies in St Petersburg.

I’m absolutely in love with the stunning and sumptuous cover for this thrilling Russian adventure for Sophie and Lil, which has once again been illustrated by the marvellous Karl James Mountford. Karl and designer Laura Bird always come up with such incredible artwork – I can’t wait to see the internal illustrations.

In this sequel to Peril in Paris, Sophie and Lil will be heading to Imperial Russia for a thrilling adventure, where they will soon discover that the glittering palaces and extraordinary entertainments of St Petersburg are hiding sinister secrets. Here’s a bit more about what you can expect from the new book:

With Sophie still missing in action after their explosive mission in Paris, Lil decides to take matters into her own hands. On a new mission for the Secret Service Bureau, can Lil find Sophie in misty, mysterious St Petersburg? Can they uncover the identity of their true enemy and can they trust anyone – even the Bureau? It’s time for Sophie and Lil to put their spy skills to the test.

Spies in St Petersburg will be published by Egmont in May 2019 – but you can pre-order your copy now from Waterstones.

Celebrating Peril in Paris

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Peril in Paris has already been out in the world for a whole month, and I’m only now getting round to writing about it! That’s because it’s been a super-busy few weeks – not only have I recently moved house, I’ve also been enjoying lots of fun celebrations to welcome the first book in the Taylor & Rose Secret Agents series.

Several exciting things happened in the run up to publication. First of all, with the help of Arcus Studios, publisher Egmont  created this incredible animated trailer for the book  using Karl’s illustrations, which perfectly evokes what the book is all about. (Make sure you’ve got your sound on – the music is a treat!)

As soon as the book hit shops at the beginning of August, I went out and about on a little tour of London to sign lots of copies, including visits to Waterstones branches at Finchley Road, Islington Green, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly and Kings Road.  I also made this ‘shelfie’ video for Waterstones in which I recommend some of my favourite children’s books which, like Peril in Paris, have female friendships firmly at their heart.

To celebrate the new book, I met up with my brilliant agent and editor for some delicious French treats at Maison Bertaux – magnifique!

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Next, in what may have been one of my most unapologetically ‘extra’ book launch celebrations to date,  I headed off to Paris for a celebratory day-trip with my friends Katie, Nina and Claire. We had a truly superbe day enjoying the Paris shops, strolling past the sights, and taking a boat trip along the Seine – as well as eating some tasty French food and taking about a million photos. What a treat – thanks guys, I honestly can’t think of a better way to welcome Peril in Paris into the world!

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Next up was a trip to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, one of my very favourite book festivals and always a highlight of the year!  I teamed up with Robin for an event as part of the festival Schools Programme, and then with Natasha Farrant for an event about thrilling adventures, also featuring her book The Children of Castle Rock. I got to read from Peril in Paris for the very first time; signed lots of books for the readers who came along; and Natasha and I even had a dog join us on stage – I think that’s definitely a first!

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Another exciting happening at this year’s EIBF was getting to meet the brilliant Chelsea Clinton (see above). Chelsea was in Edinburgh to talk about her new children’s book She Persisted Around the World, and was kind enough to join us for a special recording of Down the Rabbit Hole, where she spoke to me and to her fellow guest Katherine Webber about her book, as well as her favourite children’s books. Have a listen here.

Finally, another amazing thing that happened  was this – a Peril in Paris themed milkshake! I’m thrilled that SBlended have created the brilliantly-named ‘Moo La La’, inspired by the book –  look out for them in their shops. They’re running a competition too, find out more here. (I certainly never could have imagined that one of my books would inspire its very own milkshake – and I can’t wait to try one!)

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There have been lots of lovely responses to Peril in Paris already: if you’ve read it, do let me know what you think of Sophie and Lil’s latest adventure. If you haven’t read it yet, you can of course get a copy from Waterstones, The Hive or Amazon. It’s also currently available as part of a promotion in both Waterstones and WH Smith Travel stores, so do look out for it there!

And if you fancy finding out a bit more about the book then check out my Peril in Paris Pinterest board, and stay tuned for some more posts about the historical background, coming up shortly!