Posts tagged April Star Author

Getting Dark Earlier = More Time To Read!

Happy end of daylight savings everyone!  Colder weather is coming, which is the perfect excuse to sneak into bed a little earlier and snuggle up with a good book.  There’s nothing I like better!

I’d love to get some book tips from you, so please tell me in the comments what you’re reading and whether you’re enjoying it. Or what your favourite book is.

Here’s what’s on my bedside table right now:



by R.J. Palacio

“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”

Because of the way he looks, Auggie Pullman’s never been to school. He just wants to be treated like everyone else, but how can that happen when he looks so different?

This is a story that will both make you laugh and break your heart. It’s unusual in that different chapters are in the point of view of different characters. The reader not only gets to know Auggie, but the people around him as well.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it.

My favourite quote from Wonder:

“Hey, if they want to give me a medal for being me, that’s okay. I’ll take it. I didn’t destroy a Death Star or anything like that, but I did just get through the fifth grade. And that’s not easy, even if you’re not me.”


Looking For Alaska

By John Green

John Green is one of my favourite writers.  I can’t wait for The Fault In Our Stars to come out as a movie, and I really hope it’s even half as awesome as the book.

Looking For Alaska is not your typical boy-meets-girl story. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s off to boarding school and in search of the ‘Great Perhaps’. He finds Alaska Young, a human hurricane who swirls him into her world, snatches his heart, then tears him apart. It’s a wild ride of a book that made me giggle uncontrollably and wipe away tears.

This one’s for older readers. If you’re a teenager looking for a book that pulls no punches, give it a try.

My favourite quote from Looking For Alaska:

“So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”



By Louis Sachar

Sentenced to Camp Green Lake for a crime he didn’t commit, Stanley Yelnats is forced to spend all day digging holes in a dry lake under a punishing sun. Stanley blames the family curse for his bad luck and tries to make the best of things. But he soon discovers that there’s a reason the cruel warden has them digging holes.  

This is a very clever book, and I loved the way all the connections were slowly revealed. How is a centuries-old curse connected to a pair of shoes falling from the sky, connected to Kissing Kate Barlow, an outlaw of the Wild West?  Read Holes to find out!

My favourite quote from Holes:

“It was all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather!”


Daughter of Smoke and Bone

By Laini Taylor

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”

This is the first book of a series of three. I read and enjoyed the first two, and the third one (Dreams of Gods and Monsters) has just come out and I can’t wait to read it!

If you’re a teenager looking for an exceptional fantasy series and great characters to sigh over, get into this one and you won’t be sorry.  Now I’ve got to run, I’ve got a book to read…

My favourite quotes from Daughter of Smoke and Bone:

“Loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve—like the soul’s version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable.”

“It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.”

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Author Blog 2 – David Hill

I’m one of those authors who likes to try different types of writing, and I’ve been spending part of this week writing a long (1750 word) book review of some YA novels. They’re all by New Zealanders, and the are all GOOD.

So do try David Hair’s Ghost’s of Parihaka, a funny and frightening story of modern kids who keep being pulled back into the past where scary things are happening. And Anna MacKenzie’s Cattra’s Legacy, her novel of a young girl in a lost kingdom who has to save her people from a dark, advancing enemy. And Des Hunt’s Phantom of Terawhiti, in which the paw prints of a strange beast are found on the coast near Wellington. And R L Stedman’s A Necklace of Souls, the first novel by this Christchurch writer, in which a girl of high birth and a boy from the humblest of backgrounds unite to face a frightening foe.

I’ve also been away for a day – flying up to Auckland to visit St Kentigern College, where I was teaching a writing workshop and talking to some of the classes who have read my books or stories (poor things). I had to get up at 5 am – not good – to catch the plane, but it was brilliant watching the west coast of the North island crawling along below us, with the low morning light making long, dark shadows across the land. The waves on the coastline looked as if someone was lifting up the edge of a duvet to show its white underside.

In the writing workshop, I suggested that the best way to become a writer is to STEAL: to watch and listen, to get ideas from what people say and do; from what you read. We talked about topics, and the very nice kids tried a piece of writing about “A Moment You’d Like To Go Back To” – a moment in sport or performance, or with an animal, or at a special place, that was so brilliant, you’d like to relive it. OR that was so embarrassing or disastrous, you’d like to go back and change it, or stop it from happening. They came up with some terrific ideas.

I’ve finished the story that I mentioned in my last blog, about the kid who likes making terrible jokes, though I’ll probably go back and add some more jokes later. And I’m waiting for the page proofs of my newest novel to arrive from the publisher, so I can check them one last time. It’s called BRAVE COMPANY, about a teenage NZ sailor in the Korean War of the 1950s. It’ll be in the shops about…..May or June. I hope.

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Raven’s Mountain

I was very excited today to see that your next book competition is for Raven’s Mountain! So I thought I’d you’d like to hear a bit more about the story.

Here’s a little excerpt:

There’s nothing and no one here except me.

No Lily and Scott.

No new footprints.

No Top-of-the-World Dance Rock.

No daypack sitting beside the rock waiting for me to put it back on.

And no huge rocky nose on the mountain below me. That side of the cliff is gone.

I can’t believe this is where I did my happy dance and worried about my sister laughing.

I never thought of worrying about the mountain. After all, mountains are made of rock. They’re very old, very strong, and very, very solid. Everyone knows that eleven-year-old girls can’t break mountains.

Except I think I did.

Because what if the rock tipped because I fell, and if it slid because it tipped, and if it broke the mountain’s nose because it slid?

The chill around my heart is turning into a solid block of ice. This is a cold, lonely, dangerous place and I’m getting out of here as fast as I can; slipping, skidding, falling, landing on my cut-to-shreds hands, sucking off the blood and snow.

It’s hard to know where stories start. Maybe the first seeds for Raven’s Mountain were planted the summer I was eight and went to summer camp in the Canadian Rockies. Or when my dad, younger sister and I climbed Pikes Peak, a 3000m mountain in Colorado. Or when I was a teenager, sleeping out in the woods in another part of the Rocky Mountains, and hearing that a grizzly had taken a camper the week before. I’m guessing all these things went into the book, but many more too, until they all got mixed up into something entirely new that wasn’t much to do with me at all.

For instance, when I started writing, I thought Raven would love the mountains, because I always have (and probably most New Zealanders would understand that!).  But the more I wrote, the more I saw that she didn’t love mountains at all. She’s only going there because her mum has remarried – Raven wants to stay in the flat prairie country, because it’s the only home she’s ever known. The mountains, and especially the rockfall, are a symbol of everything that’s changing in her life.

(But, since people always wonder if an author is like her characters, there might be a bit of me in her bossy story telling friend Jess…)

In Canada, Raven’s Mountain is called Facing the Mountain, because that’s what Raven really has to do. Which title and cover do you like best?

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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

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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!

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Nightstorm and the Grand Slam

I have been in floods of tears over my laptop this week as I say goodbye to some very good friends – namely the characters in the Pony Club Secrets series!

That’s right. After 13 books and untold adventures for Issie and the gang from Chevalier Point, it’s all about to come to a thrilling conclusion. I have just been finishing the rewrites on the very last book in the series, Nightstorm and the Grand Slam, and that’s the reason for all those tears. It’s not just that I’m going to miss all the characters once I stop writing the books – although I am going to feel awfully lonely without them. The tears also flowed because some very big and dramatic things occur in the Grand Slam. I won’t ruin it for you by telling you what happens, but I will say that I think it is the most action-packed book in the whole series!

Unfortunately, New Zealand readers are going to have to wait another three months to find out how it all ends because Nightstorm and the Grand Slam isn’t going to come out here until July! Meanwhile the penultimate book in the series – Liberty and the Dream Ride – is out in local shops and your library now. And you can always put in an advance request with your librarian for the Grand Slam too so that you’ll be the first to get it when it finally arrives!

The latest book in the Pony Club Rivals series is called Riding Star and it should be out here in New Zealand next month. Georgie and the girls are back at Blainford and they’re starting a polo team. I picked up a few hints hanging out with polo players down in Gisborne when I was writing it. You can check it out on my blog at

Yesterday, as a break from all the writing – I did some more writing! I was helping out at a dressage competition writing up the judges’ notes for her. It was loads of fun watching the dressage riders – so much fun that I thought I might try riding a test myself. My horse Ash and I are entered for a competition next weekend!

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Check out our April Star Author – Stacy Gregg

After a short break our Star Author promotion is back!  To kick it off again we have a fantastic author joining us this month, Stacy Gregg.

Stacy Gregg is a New Zealand author who has written the Pony Club Secrets series, including Blaze and the Dark Rider and Comet and the Champion’s Cup, and the new Pony Club Rivals series, starting with The Audition.  She has a horse called Ash who loves showjumping and dressage and his funny antics inspire lots of stories for the Pony Club Secrets and Pony Club Rivals books.

Welcome Stacy!  We look forward to reading lots about your horses and your books.

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