Archive for April, 2011

Questions, Questions….

Since I began writing the Pony Club Secrets series I get loads of brilliant letters and emails from all over the world. Funnily enough, they often ask the same questions – so I thought for my final blog I would answer a few of them here:

Q:How did you become an author?

A:I began writing when I was at school – I did lots of poems and short stories – and I really recommend this as a way of getting started with your writing. Trying to attack a whole novel is too hard at first. You need to build your way up to it. After school, I became a feature writer on magazines – so I have always written for a living and I believe that having deadlines and learning to meet them is good training. Lots of authors started out as advertising copy writers or as journalists – writing of any kind is good to get the creative muscles working!

Q:Do you have a horse?

A: Yes I do. His name is Ash and he’s a 16 hands high bay Dutch Warmblood Thoroughbred cross. He was bred down in Gisborne and he was meant to showjump but I do mostly dressage on him. He is seven years old and very handsome! I love him to bits. You can read about him on the blog on my website

Q:How many books have you written?

A:I’ve written 13 books in the Pony Club Secrets series (the final book is Nightstorm and the Grand Slam which is out in New Zealand in July). I’ve also written 3 books so far in the Pony Club Rivals series and the 4th is called The Prize and it’s out later this year.

Q: Will the books ever get made into a movie or a TV series – and can I be in it?!

A:The answer to this is – I hope so! There’s been lots of stuff happening behind the scenes and we’re working on it – but we’re not at the stage where we’re doing auditions just yet. So if you’re a keen rider or actor keep an eye on my website and we’ll let you know as soon as there’s news – I promise!

That’s all from me! Thanks Christchurch Libraries – I loved being your Star Author for the month!

X Stacy

Comments off

My Top 10 Animal Stories

Comments off

Plague by Michael Grant

The Gone Series by Michael Grant is one of the coolest series ever written.  It’s just a normal day in Perdido Beach when all the adults (anyone over the age of 14) suddenly disappears and the town is surrounded by an impenetrable wall.  You would think that life would be great without adults; you can do whatever you want, when you want to, and eat whatever you like.  But when you’re cut off from the rest of civilization, with a small supply of food and water, life starts to get worse.  If that isn’t bad enough, some of the kids in Perdido Beach start developing super powers, including levitation, invisibility, healing, and super-speed.  Two groups of kids form;  Sam leading the kids from Perdido Beach and Caine leading the kids of Coates Academy.   Their new home comes to be called The FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) and as time passes they have to deal with kids who suddenly disappear on their 15th birthday (Gone), a shrinking food supply (Hunger), the manipulation of The Darkness (Lies), and in the latest book, a terrible Plague.

In Plague the darkness has been foiled once again and the resurrected Drake has been contained. But the streets of Perdido Beach are far from safe, with a growing army of mutants fighting against the humans for power in the town. In a small room of a house near the edge of town, Little Pete lies ill on a bed. In his fevered dreams, he continues his battle with the hidden evil that seeks to use his power to bring about anarchy and destruction.  The situation in the FAYZ is the worst it’s been but can Sam actually save them all this time?

Plague is a really intense book with some parts that will leave you cringing.  I still can’t believe that the characters survived through their challenges.  One thing that stands out about this book in the series is that there is some sense of hope, which made me want to read the next book right away (I can’t say any more otherwise I’ll ruin the surprise).  I’m amazed at how Michael Grant keeps track of all his characters and how he comes up with new ways to test them in each book.  I’ll eagerly await the next in the series, Fear, to see what he has in store for Sam and the kids of the FAYZ.    The series is in the Young Adult section so they’re recommended for good readers aged 12 and up.      9 out of 10

Comments (3) »

Mark Todd at Badminton

The Badminton Horse Trials have always been the most exciting event in the world as far as I’m concerned. Back in 1980 I was a twelve year old kid at the Ngaruawahia Pony Club when Mark Todd won it for the first time. I remember hearing the news and thinking that it simply wasn’t possible – Badminton was such a major, major event with riders like Lucinda Prior-Palmer and the very best eventers in the world. It was the most incredible victory for Todd. He had never even ridden at Badminton before and he was completely untested around a course of four-star calibre. His dramatic, unexpected win marked the start of a decade and a half of dominance by the New Zealanders in the sport of eventing.

Todd won every major event after that plus two gold medals at the Olympics on Charisma. By the time he retired in 2000 he had already been named the Event Rider of the Century. Now, after a decade out of the limelight he’s made the most astonishing comeback at the age of 55 to win Badminton for an amazing fourth time – on a young, green horse NZB Land Vision – and he’s proven that he’s the Event Rider of the Next Century too! I watched him in the showjumping and screamed when he flew clear over the last fence and promptly burst into tears. He is such an inspiration! A complete superhero.

Real-life and fiction often seem to go hand in hand – my last book in the Pony Club Secrets series, Nightstorm and the Grand Slam, is also set at the Badminton Horse Trials with a New Zealand rider bound for glory.

I put the finishing touches on the final draft of Nightstorm and the Grand Slam last night and it is probably off to the printers by now – due for release in the UK in May and here in New Zealand in July. I can’t wait to see it in print as I loved writing this book and it is the perfect end to the series. Meanwhile, I have to start the next book in the Pony Club Rivals series. I am already behind on my deadline! Typical!

Comments (4) »

NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Competitions

If you’re looking for something to do these school holidays you can enter the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards competitions.  There are two competitions and they are open to anyone from 0-18 years so if you have any brothers or sisters that want to enter they can too.  The competitions relate to two of the finalist books:

You can submit your entries by dropping them into Hornby Library, South Library or The Reading Bug Bookshop, or email them to  Entries close on Wednesday 18 May and an exhibition of the finalists’ work will be displayed in South Library from 1 May-18 May.

There are lots of prizes up for grabs and everyone who enters will get invited to the prize giving on Friday 20 May at South Library.  Get creative for your chance to win!

Comments (1) »

Jacqueline Wilson’s Lily Alone book trailer

Lily Alone is Jacqueline Wilson’s new book and you can get it now from the library.  Place a hold on Lily Alone at one of our libraries that are open or online using your library card number and PIN. If you don’t have a PIN, phone us on 941-7923.

Comments (6) »

Reading Crusade Challenge – Week 3

Week 3 Challenge – Animals

Try an animal story.  It could be about a mouse like Stuart Little or Runaway Ralph, a horse like Bow Down Shadrach or Pony Club Secrets, a dog like Shadow or Hotel for Dogs, or a cat like The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips or The Warriors series.

Check out our If you like Animal Stories  and If you like Brian Jacques book list and our Book Buzz page for lots of great animal stories you could read.

Tell us about your favourite animal book and you’ll go into the draw to WIN a Stacy Gregg prize pack with books from the Pony Club Secrets and Pony Club Rivals series.

See below for Terms and conditions  Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2) »

Hill & Hole by Kyle Mewburn

This picture book is about a hill and a hole. They are good friends and they very happy too. One day they want a change, but will it that easy …? Read the book to find out the ending!

This is a lovely book with good ideas and lovely pictures. I found the Auckland Sky Tower in one of them. Have a look for it. 🙂

This is a New Zealand Post Book Award finalist for 2011 so go and vote vote vote! You can vote at your local Library. Children might win a big prize just for voting and the book with the most votes wins an award.

Eibhlin, aged 8.

Comments off

My Top 10 Fantasy Books

Comments (2) »

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Do you miss Harry Potter and wish that there was another series you could read that’s similar?  Look no further than The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, a magical new fantasy story and the first in The Books of Beginning Trilogy.

Kate, Michael and Emma have never really known their parents who disappeared in the dead of night 10 years ago.  They were taken by a mysterious stranger, left at an orphanage and have been moved around ever since.  When the children are sent off to another orphanage in Cambridge Falls they think this place will be the same as the last, but they are very, very wrong.  No-one seems to have heard of Cambridge Falls, and they discover that it is kept hidden from the world by a magic spell.   In their new home they meet the mysterious Dr Pym, who Kate seems to recognise.  While exploring their new home, they discover an old leather book and set in motion an ancient magical prophecy which will take them on the adventure of a lifetime.

The Emerald Atlas is a fast-paced, magical adventure through a world filled with dwarves, horrible creatures, a beautiful but sinister witch, and a mysterious book with the power to change the world.  The story will suck you in and keep you guessing to the very end.  I loved the dwarves who always seemed to be cursing and arguing, but pulled together to help the children.  If you love stories like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Series of Unfortunate Events and The Golden Compass, then you’ll love The Emerald AtlasRecommended for 9+  10 out of 10

Comments off

On ANZAC Day, we will remember them

coverANZAC Day is celebrated on 25 April every year to remember all the people who served and especially those who died in the two World Wars and other major conflicts.

The library has lots of material about ANZAC day, including Diggers’ Poems – written by returned soldiers after World War I. There’s plenty more to choose from as well:

There are also a number of dawn parades and memorials around Christchurch and Canterbury that you could go along to to remember those that died fighting for their country.

Comments off

John Stephens talks to NZ about The Emerald Atlas

Stay tuned for our  review of The Emerald Atlas tomorrow.  If you think it sounds like a book you would love to read, make sure you enter our Week 2 Reading Crusade Challenge for your chance to win a copy (we’ve got 5 copies to give away).

Comments off

What is your favourite fantasy movie?

Vote for your favourite fantasy movie.

Comments (2) »


I have just had a sneak peek of the new library catalogue and it is totally awesome. I love the way you can make public lists of some of the books you’ve read, and then have other people look at them and read them!

It is a lot better than the other old catalogue because it has way more features and it isn’t boring when you try to find new books. Because looking at other lists and reading what other people suggest way more fun. You don’t actually have to do this though. You can use it like the old catalogue. It is kind of like Facebook for libraries, Librarybook (ha ha). You can be way more interactive and as I have said before it is a really fun way of finding books.

Here is a link to one of my cool lists.


Comments (2) »

Dressage Day and Writing Tips

After a whole week of brilliant sunny days, on the actual day of the dressage competition it was absolutely hosing down! All the same, I decided to ride and so I took Ash along in the horse float in torrential rain to Woodhill Sands where the competition was being held. By the time I’d tacked him up both of us were soaked to the skin. We were also so over-excited about doing our first dressage competition in almost a year that Ash entered the ring with a giant buck!  He settled down after that and we managed to get two rosettes – one for third place and one for fifth. I liked the fifth place one the best because it was a very pretty shade of pink! It wasn’t exactly a stunning effort on our part, we could have done much better! But I’m sure we’ll improve for the next show and we had lots of fun!

It is school holidays at the moment so I’m planning to go riding in the forest with my daughter tomorrow. I love the forest! The woods are full of deer and the stags are in the roaring season at the moment and they sound like lions when they make their mating calls!

Meanwhile I have work to do! I  need to get started on my new book – Pony Club Rivals: The Prize.

Starting a new book is always hard and first chapters are the most difficult ones to write. I thought I might give a few tips on getting started for all you keen writers out there.

My Top 5 Writing Tips:

  1. Make a map of the plot before you begin to write. I often draw myself a map of all the chapters before I begin. I don’t usually stick to the plan, but it helps me to get my ideas sorted so I can start. I keep the map pinned to the wall above my desk.
  2. Figure out the key themes for your story. Who are the main characters going to be? What’s going to happen to them? What lessons will they learn in the course of the story?
  3. Set yourself achievable goals for writing. Try writing a page a day or a chapter a week. Goals are important because if you don’t have a ‘deadline’ or a target then it is hard to motivate yourself.
  4. Don’t ever give up because you have ‘writer’s block’. This is no excuse! Sit down and make yourself write something – anything! If I am having a bad day I still force myself to write – there’s always something worth keeping in the rough draft and you can go back and rewrite it up later.
  5. Be your own writing critic. Once you’ve done the rough draft go back and read it and think about how you could make it better. Then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite again!

I hope those hints help you. As for me – I should really go and get started on that novel right now!

X Stacy

Comments (1) »

Alex Rider – Scorpia Rising

It’s been five months since Alex heard from MI6. He doesn’t know if Mrs Jones has finally persuaded Alan Blunt not to use teenagers on missions, or they just don’t need him at the moment. But it doesn’t really matter, he was glad to be a regular boy again. But in the back of his mind, he wonders, does he miss it?  The excitement, the thrill, knowing what England was like behind the scenes? Of course not! But is that really the truth? Alex thought about what he wanted, but when you’re Britain’s most successful spy, there is no choice.

When Alex is almost sniped at school, he finds himself dragged back into the world of gangs, murderers, and secret society’s.

Meanwhile, Scorpia is offered a serious amount of money to steal from the British Museum. But after two previous failures, they decide to take out the only person who can stop them: Alex Rider. So they seek out the best person for the job. Somebody who hates Alex more than anybody else, somebody who is one of the smartest and most criminally insane people in the world, somebody, who wants revenge…

In need of answers, Alex goes to MI6, they would know what this was all about. But he comes out scheduled for another mission. This time Alex must travel to Cairo, to spy on a head of security of a school for they worlds richest kids. Although everything is not as it seems.

I really can’t give any more away for this book, it would ruin the whole story. But I can tell you this is one of the best Anthony Horowitz books yet. It’s fast paced, and you can’t predict what will happen next, as all of the Alex Rider books are full of clever twists and the plan only becomes clear at the very end.

I would rate it 7 or 8/10.

By Henry

Comments (1) »

Reading Crusade Challenge – Week 2

Week 2 Challenge – Fantasy

Try a fantasy book – there are heaps to choose from.  If you love Harry Potter there are heaps of other books like it, including The Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones.  There are also lots of books with dragons, wizards, dwarves, fairies, orcs, witches, and magical realms.

Check out our If you like Harry Potter book list and our Book Buzz page for lots of great fantasy stories you could read.

Tell us about your favourite fantasy book and you’ll go into the draw to WIN:

See below for Terms and conditions  Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5) »

The Emerald Atlas book trailer

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens is a great new fantasy book that is the first in The Books of Beginning Trilogy.  If you love stories like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Series of Unfortunate Events and The Golden Compass, then you’ll love The Emerald Atlas.

Place a hold on The Emerald Atlas at one of our libraries that are open or online using your library card number and PIN. If you don’t have a PIN, phone us on 941-7923.

Comments off

The Billionaire’s Curse by Richard Newsome

The Billionaire’s Curse is one of my favourite adventure books.  You can find out about the book here on the blog.

For more adventure books, check out the adventure books Reading Crusade Challenge.

Comments (1) »

Shadow of the Boyd by Diana Menefy

Shadow of the Boyd is a journey into New Zealand’s past.  Thomas Davidson, an apprentice sailor on his first sea voyage, becomes friends with George, a Maori coming home to New Zealand. When George is brutally flogged he vows to exact revenge on the Boyd’s Pakeha crew.

As the battle takes place overhead Thomas hides behind a load of sacks, then, as the battle dies down Thomas thinks he is the lone survivor. He calls out to George as he comes down and is spared, George takes Thomas on to the island and gives him some work.  Thomas is taken to a hut and meets a woman from the ship, they help each other through these tough times and stick together.

I think it is a great book because I was in suspense in some parts and never wanted to put it down, and it is very well written. Did you know that it is a finalist in the New Zealand Post Book Awards? I can see why it is a finalist now that I’ve read it.

It is so good that I read it in a day, I never wanted to put it down.

I give it a 9/10 and it is best for 10yrs+


Comments (6) »

%d bloggers like this: