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A life long love of books

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Amanda Prowse200x300We’re delighted to welcome author Amanda Prowse as this month's guest blogger.

I grew up in a house without books – apart from The Littlewoods catalogue and a copy of a Haynes car manual!

My parents were young and working hard to support their four children and I don’t think they had the time to read at home. The day I was given my first library card was the day my life changed. I was six and remember learning about the Dewey decimal system and being told that I could choose not one, but a whole stack of books to take home. It felt like such a privilege to be trusted with this most precious thing.

This was only the beginning of my love affair with books. As a child who moved around a lot and as the wife of a soldier where we also enjoy a rather nomadic existence, books have been my saviour and my friends. They are my escape and my educators, my hobby and my career.

I am nearly fifty and the joy I feel when I have an unread book in my palms is exactly the same as it was when I was small. Similarly, if I don’t have a book (or more accurately a pile of books) waiting to be read, I feel a slight sense of panic! Diving into another world that provides escape from the stresses of life has always been one of my greatest pleasures.

I am an avid reader – and for me there is no greater joy than finding a fellow bookworm with whom I can discuss books and reading. Some of the happiest times I have had, have been chatting to strangers on trains, buses, planes or in the supermarket queue about books!

Books have been a wonderful way to connect with my sons over the years, now, I am interested to hear what they have been reading, but when they were little, the joy of sitting them on my lap and reading to them, as they helped me turn the pages and asked questions about the stories… ah, these are golden memories that I will always treasure.

Being married to a soldier, I love the service Reading Force provides – encouraging Service families to share books and talk about them as a way to stay connected when apart because of deployments or living far away from extended family, and simply as a way to have fun, share, and chat when at home altogether. As a booklover, Service mum and wife, this really resonates with me.

Growing up, every time I read a book, I would think, I WISH I had written that or I can do better than that! But it wasn’t until I was in my forties and my husband was on tour in Iraq that I decided to try and put pen to paper. Six years later, I have written twenty best selling novels, my books have been translated into dozens of languages and I am the UK’s most prolific fiction writer. My life is like a fairy story and it all started with entering a library for the first time and picking up a book…

Mother’s Day giveaway for Forces mums!

 We know how special and superhuman you Forces mums are, so we have a Mother’s Day giveaway just for you…

Amanda Prowse bookcoversx3-250x150... you can win Will You Remember Me? by bestselling author Amanda Prowse. We have FIVE signed copies to give away!

To be in with the chance of winning one, email your full name, address, and Service connection, to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with ‘Mother’s Day’ in the subject line, by Friday 31st March.

Poppy Day is looking forward to her best year yet. She’s thirty-two, married to her childhood sweetheart, and a full-time mum of two gorgeous children. She loves her clean little house in the countryside – a far cry from the London estate where she grew up. Her husband Mart, a soldier, has just returned safe and sound from his latest tour.

But Poppy is so busy caring for others, she hasn’t noticed the fatigue in her body, or the menacing lump growing on her breast. If there’s anyone strong and deserving enough to defeat cancer it’s Poppy. After all, she’s fought harder battles than this. But does like really work like that?

Happy Mother's Day!

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Bother, Trouble and an RAF childhood

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SusanImgrund main 210x276We’re delighted to welcome children’s author S.P. Moss as our first guest blogger of 2017!

In Susan's books, The Bother in Burmeon and Trouble in Teutonia, Billy slips back in time to the mid-20th century to have adventures with his RAF pilot granddad. These exciting and fast-paced stories were inspired by Susan’s father’s RAF life (she’s even included a glossary of RAF slang in both books).

Read Susan’s blog, below, about her memories of life as an RAF child, and how she came to turn her father’s adventures into children’s stories: 

Bother, Trouble and an RAF childhood

Flying and travel are in my blood – as the daughter of an RAF officer and a Canadian teacher, I visited four of the world’s continents before starting school. My dad was stationed in Aden long, long ago in the 1960s, and my very earliest memories are of this exotic, magical but sadly so troubled place. 

Slides that were made of wood as metal in that heat would have given your backside a nasty shock! Goats and camels wandering through the streets. The shark nets at the beach. And, best of all, a two week holiday in Kenya, where the sands were silver and the monkeys cheeky enough to steal a banana from your pocket!

SusanImgrund compbox

When we returned to the UK my parents took the decision to stop the moving around – they had done plenty of that when my brother and I were little. We settled in Camberley, and my mum held the fort while my dad was posted here, there and everywhere around the country. We only got to see him at weekends, and not every weekend, either. In those distant days before mobile phones and FaceTime, it meant making the most of what time we had together as a family. Looking back, I think I must have subconsciously soaked up my dad’s RAF ways and expressions, so that I could keep him with me at all times.

SusanImgrund siblings 220x220My childhood was full of books. I read avidly and wrote determinedly in between plotting to become a spy and building brother-proof camps.

Once he’d retired from flying, my dad worked as a tutor at the Staff College, Bracknell, where he ‘...wrestled to impart some respect for the English language in our future leaders of the Royal Air Force,’ as one of his colleagues put it. He’d always planned to write his memoirs, but events took another course and, armed with logbooks, sepia-tinted photos and a few addresses of old chums, I set about the task that my dad never had a chance to start. 

I was fascinated by what lay behind the hours in the logbooks and what happened before and after the black and white snapshots. And, while I was writing my dad’s biography, my young son asked what his granddad was like. A delightful "what if" question flitted into my mind, and with it a lost world, full of danger, dirty deeds and derring-do. My publisher described it as ‘a long-forgotten beauty – not fantasy, not ancient history, but something you and I had forgotten was magic: a Britain where country roads were bright and welcoming, where cars, motorbikes and aeroplanes – not to mention their pilots – still had an aura of adventure about them.’

What if a 21st century boy, used to Pause Buttons and Play Agains from his adventures in a virtual world, could go back in time to the days where his granddad had adventures for real? Back to 1962 and South East Asia in The Bother in Burmeon and 1957, the Cold War and a country not unlike Germany in Trouble in Teutonia?

I got scribbling, unlocked those childhood memories, brought the black and white snapshots to life, sprinkled in a few of my favourite books from my childhood, from Biggles to A Wrinkle in Time, and distilled all the RAF banter and expressions into the character of Grandpop. Before I knew it, I had a finished novel, and plans for more in the series. 

SusanImgrund Bother cover150x210SusanImgrund Trouble cover150x210For a taste of the characters and adventures, have a look at the books’ websites www.burmeon.com and www.troubleinteutonia.com, and the YouTube trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ixmljOaiKI

Young Billy and Grandpop have visited South East Asia, and central Europe, so where next? Danger in Denmark? The Mess in Mesopotamia?

Well, do you remember the shark nets and camels?

Watch this space!

A huge thank you to Reading Force for having me.

Toodle pip!

S.P. Moss

 

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Diaries are full of memories

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Blog Emma Diaries300x225pixelsHello Reading Force families!  I'm Emma, I'm a Pad Brat and I will be writing a monthly blog about reading and Forces life. 

School has been back in session for a month now and I’m sure there’s been some good times (friends, lunch time, home time) and some challenging times (teachers, lessons, homework!) so I thought I’d bring you a list of books to get you through it. 

When I was at school my Year 9 form tutor decided we should all keep a diary – at the same time I was enjoying reading The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot. 

Blog Emma Diaries2 books250x176So, in honour of my favourite series I of course created The Supa* Diaries! (Not Superstar, Supa*, because that was the logical way to write things back in 2003!).

The diaries are full of memories of my experiences as a teenager and the way the world was back then before Facebook and Selfies existed. The terrible handwriting aside, I can decipher the writing as I shared ‘youth club gossip’, my current crushes, friendship dilemmas and school stresses. I remember the diaries being a great outlet too when I had no one else to turn to. I definitely recommend starting a diary yourself.

If you’re not sure how to write one, read one first and here are some of the best ones out there:Notebooks Middle School Princess175x160

1) Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot 

Meg Cabot’s spin-off series from The Princess Diaries, Mia Thermopolis from the first series whisks Olivia Grace to New York City as it turns out she is descended from the Prince of Genovia! Definitely a great read that is just as good as the original Princess Diaries series.

2) Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

I saw the film of the series first and really laughed at the Cheese Touch game! I later read the books and they were just as funny – it’s the illustrations that really make this book an great read.

3) Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell dork diaries 9bks180x180

Nikki Maxwell would get along with Wimpy Kid Greg Heffley, I’m sure. They are both funny in their observations of school life and their illustrations are always entertaining. I hope a Dork Diaries movie will come out some day, but until then there’s lots of time to read all the books!

4) Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson

The obvious Jacqueline Wilson book to mention would have been The Diary of Tracy Beaker, but I’ve decided to recommend Secrets as it’s a twist on the diary tale – there are two diaries! India and Treasure meet one another and despite their different backgrounds, they are able to help one another. The story is like The Prince and the Pauper meets The Diary of Anne Frank and the style of book is one you could try yourself through your Reading Force scrapbook. You can write a diary entry and your parent could write the next one.

KillerCat140x1955) Diary of a Killer Cat by Anne Fine

Written from the perspective of Tuffy the cat who doesn’t understand why everyone gets so mad when he brings home dead presents. A very funny book great for younger readers to share. 

That’s all for now – I’m off to write my own diary!

Emma


Picture credit for
The Princess Diaries http://planet-print.blogspot.co.uk

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Where are you from?

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Emma3 210x265Hi! I'm Emma, I'm 27, a Pad Brat and I will be writing a monthly blog about reading and Forces life. To tell you a bit about my background: my Dad was in the Army, he joined the Light Infantry for almost thirteen years before joining The Royal Logistic Corps in 1995. Currently he's working at 237 Bde Sp Sqn RLC. My Mum and brother work for West Midland Reserve Forces & Cadets Association and I've spent some time in Cadets as a teen and later worked at the RFCA also! So we're still pretty embedded in Forces life!

My main passion has always been with literature. I did my undergrad degree in English and Theatre, my Masters in Writing for Children and currently I work as a School Librarian. In this blog I hope to marry up the two halves of my life: my Forces background and my love of reading for the awesome charity Reading Force

But where am I from? That's a tricky question I imagine many of you are familiar with.

Growing up in the Forces with my brother (now 21) and sister (now 28) I never really got asked "where are you from?”. I don't even remember asking other people. I suppose in our lifestyle we just assume that everyone is from somewhere else and that's all. When my Dad left the Army and my family and I returned to civvy life, I soon discovered that this is a more frequent question.

So, I would respond with, "Do you want the long version or the short version?" The long version: "I'm was born in Germany but then moved to Winchester, Tidworth, Cyprus, Colchester, back to Germany (but a different place), Wiltshire, Germany again (another new place), Preston, York, Birmingham and finally settling (though maybe not forever) in Stourbridge." Short version: "I'm from the internet" (probably the place I spend the most time!).

My response created some interesting discussions about why I'd travelled so much and what my life was like, though sometimes it's hard being a "third-culture kid" and feeling like an immigrant in your own country. Luckily, books don't judge. I've always been a reader and in this blog I intend to talk about the books that I read growing up (and still read now) that helped me with the constant moves, separation from parents, adjusting to civvy life and books which I generally enjoyed and recommend.

Today though, I will round off my blog premiere with a bit more about me, so here are a few favourites:Emma1 150x200

Book Genres: Children's Literature and Horror
Books:  Up on Cloud Nine by Anne Fine, and Sammy Keyes Mysteries by Wendelin Van Draanen
Song: At Last by Etta James
Colour: Purple
Film: Uptown Girls
TV Show: Dance Moms
Cuisine: Mexican
Holiday destination: Anywhere hot
Forces Barracks: Anyone with a PX!
Place I've lived: Wiltshire, Harsewinkel and Preston

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