Merry Meet Monday: Emma Bradley

Today we’re thrilled to have YA fantasy author, Emma Bradley visit. She has just released the third book in the Arcanium series, The Issue with Fairies which follows Demi, the only fairy in her family as she trains at the Arcanium, a prestigious of fairy organisations and battles those who are intent on overthrowing the Queen of Faerie. Amber’s review for the first book The Trouble with Fairies is here.

Merry Meet Monday: Emma Bradley

Willow: Hi, Emma. Come through to the back and Amber will pop the kettle on. What do you fancy to drink? We have tea of all descriptions, coffee or something stronger? Just be careful where you step. Inspired by your books, Amber tried a spell to communicate with fae and we now have an explosion of toadstools and fairy rings inside the shop.

Emma: This sounds so much fun! And yes, the toadstools will likely vanish during Faerie hour, but the fairy rings are immovable once they set up roots, so just leave little offerings of Jelly Babies and they’ll do you no harm! I will take a coke zero and also a job application form…

Amber: If Willow let me read the old grimoires she has under lock and key, I wouldn’t have to resort to experimenting and getting it wrong.

Willow: They’re locked away for a reason. I don’t want to imagine what chaos would happen if you read them. Emma doesn’t want to hear all this.

Emma: (I really do!)

Amber: Your books are popular with visitors to the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf. I fell in love with the Arcanium and the dilapidated amusement arcade façade. Can you tell us about how the series came about?

Emma: Absolutely! I tend to do my worldbuilding before all else until the world is almost a character in its own right, and I imagined the Atrium first, just the mayhem and chaos and noise. I think the golden lifts were there as well, but the ivy walls came later (and also have some small relevance to the series now). Then I wondered what it would be like to have a completely random entry-point from the human world, like Diagon Alley or the Empire State Building. I live by the coast and there’s an arcade I walk past which is always empty yet always open, so this made total sense – how do they earn a living if there’s nothing ‘other’ going on? So Arcanium existed first, but for a long while Demi was actually the side-kick. Luckily she shouted the loudest and managed to take the top billing, and the rest of the series and plot sort of knit itself from there!

Willow: Demi is a relatable and likable protagonist but Leo is a star. What made you choose a chameleon as a character rather than any other animals?

Emma: He’s such a huge favourite with readers! I remember reading about chameleons during the whole Demi becoming the main character stage and thinking how cool it would be for her to have a pet. He was originally a snake that could breathe fire, but then I was reading about chameleons and figured the changeling aspect was very fae. Leo especially has very interesting depths what with him being from Faerie, but he’s still growing and developing his awesomeness.

Amber: Trevor adores jelly babies. What’s your favourite writer’s snack?

Emma: Mine would definitely be Skittles, although I don’t have them too often these days. I have a serious coke zero addiction though, so nine times out of ten there’ll be a can somewhere nearby! Strangely, it seems to calm me down rather than hype me up on caffeine, so I find it helps with focus when writing.

Willow: What has your writing journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Emma: I started out writing pony stories at the tender age of 9. They were awful, but in my teens I moved onto loving fantasy and have been dreaming myself away ever since. The logical option was to start writing them all down, and all I wanted to be when I was younger was the next Sir Terry, Neil Gaiman or Anne Rice. I don’t think I’d change anything on my writing journey though, but I would definitely recommend anyone going into publishing a book (trad or indie) to focus on promotion and marketing very early on in the process. I think there are some traditionally published authors who still get a lot of help, advertising done and events set up for them, etc. but with self-publishing, it’s all down to you. I love the control element of that, but it can get a bit overwhelming when there’s nobody to fall back on if things get hectic or tough. This is why the writing community is an absolute treasure overall though, as everyone’s been so lovely!

Amber: Great role models. The Enchanted Emporium loves all of them. What is your writing routine? And do have a favourite writing or reading place?

Emma: My routine is basically write notes in any spare gaps, draft in evenings and downtime, and edit when you absolutely can’t avoid it any longer. I’ve now also mastered the art of convincing myself that I’m not actually editing, I’m just rereading because I love the characters so much and tweaking as I go. And in all great honesty my bed is my favourite place to write – curl up with my many pillows, my dog and a coke zero on ice and simply lose myself in whatever story I’m working on!

Willow: We have several customers who are writers. Do you have any advice for new writers?

Emma: A first draft doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t even have to really make 100% sense. It’s literally just you getting the shape of the story and the odd bits of dialogue out of your head and onto the page. Writing can be daunting when you think of it as this great project and start wondering ‘can I even do this’, but of course you can. Anyone can. That first draft won’t likely get you an agent or tons of readers, but you work on it, hone it, change it, dramatically pretend to bin it a million times, and slowly it takes shape. If you put the work in, and writing is a lot of work if you intend to write for publication, the story will come. I know there are also a lot of people who just want to write for fun, but I think this is how we should all start. Explore, experiment, play with it!

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Emma: I’m terrible with choices! I think I’m getting better with my ability to say no, and I sleep okay, so I suppose I’d choose the confidence one – to see what that would feel like. Most of my ‘writing self’ is online, which is much easier to handle and project confidently than in real life, so a confidence candle might just give me the boost to do more outside type things too!

Willow: One candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit? Where would it take you?

Emma: I’m trying to think of something, maybe from childhood, but I recently got back from a Barcelona holiday and I would give anything to go back right now, but maybe with my dog. To nearest the estate agents! Or I would go back to one of the lazy summer days from my teens where all I did was read and write and still believed the magic places I was reading about could maybe be real somehow.

Amber: The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity. Have you had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Emma: I think even the ghosts and ghouls would look at me and say ‘eh, too much flapping’ – I once went to the London Dungeon and was so paranoid about people jumping out that I screamed at a half-costumed woman coming out of a store room, startled the life out of her. We did do the whole ‘light as a feather, stiff as a board’ thing at a sleepover once though, and the girl did get fairly high in the air before we freaked out and dropped her. I also use tarot cards and pendulum for meditative thought fairly often – no guarantee there’s anyone listening or guiding, but you never know…

Willow: I’ve never attempted group levitation but people have varying results and you’ll have to browse our selection of tarot and oracle cards before you leave. They’re useful tools. If we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Emma: The ultimate question, and I still don’t have an answer! I’ve done flying in Virtual Reality before and that was an amazing sensation, so I think I’d say flying. Ooh no, I would be able to know any language. I’ve been agonising about learning Finnish recently and also now want to learn Spanish, so being able to do that superpower-style would be amazing.

Amber: What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Emma: Oh, there are so many great fantasy books out – Mina and the Undead (Amy McCaw) was a brilliant YA read with a 90s vibe and New Orleans vampires. The Autumn Moonbeam (Emma Finlayson-Palmer) books promise to be great for younger readers and I’m sure Toby and the Silver Blood Witches (Sally Doherty) needs no introduction! Also, The Unadjusteds trilogy (Marisa Noelle) is dystopian but the genetic engineering fantasy element worked really well. Ooh and look out for Where Fate Whispers (E.G. Tudor) – technically adult but works well for the YA readers who like Throne of Swans and similar! Okay, I got carried away…

Willow:  Our reading list has just got bigger. What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

Emma: *Inserts shameless plug for Arcanium book #3 without giving any spoilers!* I think fantasy and romance often go hand in hand, something about the wide-ranging ability of being able to dream maybe. Keeping it clean, I think the relationship in Where Fate Whispers (E.G. Tudor) was lovely, and I’m really excited there’s going to be a second book. Same with Mina and the Undead (Amy McCaw). Sometimes I do go back to reread old favourites as well though, and the last one of those was the Wicked Lovely (Melissa Marr) series which has multiple romantic plotlines!

Willow: More books to try and self promo is more than allowed. What are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Emma: The plot is top secret, but I can say that I’m focusing on the final two books (4 and 5) of the Arcanium series, plus some adult fantasy. I’ve also been writing a portal fantasy series of 4 trilogies which has wavered between adult and YA for years, so I’m hoping to focus on those and get those published next. But Arcanium first, although once people read book 4 they might not be talking to me… (it resolves in book 5 I promise!)

Amber: They sound great and you’ll have to pop by again with updates.

Willow: You must. Thanks for the chat and here’s some complimentary tea that tastes just like cola and an application form. I’ll keep you on file in case of emergencies or Amber breaks more rules than usual.

Author Biography

Photo of Emma Bradley white woman smiling with hair scraped back into a ponytail. Wearing a black hoodie.
Emma Bradley

Emma lives on the UK south coast with her husband, her plant collection and a very lazy black Labrador who occasionally condescends to take her out for a walk. Aside from creative writing studies, an addiction to cereal and spending far too much time procrastinating on social media, Emma is still waiting for the arrival of her unicorn. Or a tank, she’s not fussy.

Social Media

Website: www.emmaebradley.com

Twitter, TikTok: @emmaebradley

Instagram: @emmabradleybooks 

Book Review: Trouble with Fairies by Emma Bradley

Today we’re excited to review the first of the Arcanium series, The Trouble with Fairies by Emma Bradley. Amber found this and the next two books on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and with beautiful book covers she was eager to read.

Scroll down to see her thoughts.

Book Review: Trouble with Fairies by Emma Bradley

Book cover of The Trouble with Fairies by Emma Bradley. The title is in silver. Dark cover with two glowing butterflies, an orb and a chameleon
The Trouble with Fairies by Emma Bradley

Title: The trouble with Fairies

Author: Emma Bradley

Publisher: Indie

Genre: YA fantasy

Release Date: 7th Dec 2021

Purchase: Amazon

Blurb

As the only fairy in her family, Demi has always dreamed of escaping to Arcanium – the most prestigious of fairy organisations – but when she arrives, she uncovers a plan to overthrow the Queen of Faerie and must embrace her human side to defeat those who want dominion over her new home.

Watch. Listen. Learn.

Demi has grown up reciting the Arcanium motto to herself and spends her days dreaming of a new life within their walls. Tormented by her human sisters for being born part-fairy, she wants to leave home and find somewhere she can truly belong.

But when she is finally invited to join Arcanium and take on assignments in the Faerie realms, she soon uncovers a plot to overthrow the Faerie Queen and return the world to the dark days of old.

Breaking the rules could mean the loss of her new life, but doing nothing will ensure the destruction of the Faerie that she now sees as her true home.

After all her daydreaming about the perfect place to belong, Demi’s about to find out that being a fairy involves much more than just waving a magic wand.

Welcome to Arcanium, elite training for the future of Faerie

(Disclaimer: All initiates join at their own risk. Loss of limbs unlikely. No refunds.)

Thoughts from the Emporium

With a stunning book cover, this is a quirky, and imaginative debut

The fabulous world building is showcased by the Arcanium, hidden behind a downtrodden arcade façade, and the faerie realms. With a library, and lifts that take you to strange places Amber was immersed into the adventure where danger and secrets lurk down meandering corridors. Willow’s Grandma Jax always said ‘Never trust the fae,’ and it is clear with the unexpected twists these words are true.

Demi may be the only fairy in her family, but she has no powers so needs to rely on her wit, experience of dealing with her sisters and serendipity to face the challenges thrown her way. Friendships are key to this coming of age tale and with a strong cast of characters, including her side kick, Leo it promises to be a gripping series.

Author Biography

Photo of author Emma Bradley
White woman smiling with long hair scraped back into a pony tail.
Emma Bradley

Emma lives on the UK south coast with her husband, her plant collection and a very lazy black Labrador who occasionally condescends to take her out for a walk. Aside from creative writing studies, an addiction to cereal and spending far too much time procrastinating on social media, Emma is still waiting for the arrival of her unicorn. Or a tank, she’s not fussy.

Social media Links

www.emmaebradley.com
Twitter, TikTok: @emmaebradley

Instagram: @emmabradleybooks 

Book Review: Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

Today is publication day for Phyllida Shrimpton’s third book Every Shade Happy. A post on Twitter reminded us of how much we loved her YA novel, Sunflowers in February and it still remains a favourite with teens at the Enchanted Emporium’s lending library. As it’s #ThrowbackThursday it’s time to review and share the love with you.

Looking for the copy made Rosa wish the enchanted bookshelf organised books in colour rather than the higgledy-piggledy it seemed to prefer. Luckily, it was soon fed up of her mutterings, and found the sunny novel itself.

Book cover for Sunflowers in February. A vibrant yellow cover with a simplistic drawn flower in blue and black alternate petals
Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

Title: Sunflowers in February

Author:  Phyllida Shrimpton

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Release date: 8th February 2018

Genre: Young Adult, paranormal, fiction

Blurb

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. and very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body, that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.

But what is she supposed do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family  – her parents and her twin brother start falling apart.

And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .

Thoughts from the Emporium

The simple vibrant cover urged Amber to read it when it was first released and she quickly decided it was a wonderful and quirky debut. Always one for reading stories about ghosts and the afterlife, this one stood out for its sense of positivity. It brought tears to her eyes, made her gasp, chuckle and smile while reading which was disconcerting for the other passengers on the bus.

Told in Lily’s point of view, her upbeat personality shone on the page and made Amber look at the world with fresh eyes, as well as buying tons of tubes of Jelly Tots. It is hard to review without giving spoilers but it covers the consequences of a death, grief, family bonds and showcases how precious life is. There were times it made her stop and appreciate the moment.

It’s a little bit of mindfulness in a wonderful ghostly read.

Photo of a tube of Rowntree jelly tots with some sweets tumbling out
Who can resist Jelly Tots?

Do you have a book you’ve read in the past you think deserves more attention? Comment below

Header image is by David Travis on Unsplash

Book Review: The Ghost in Ivy Barn by Mark Stay

The staff at the Enchanted Emporium were thrilled to discover an advanced copy of the third book in the Witches of Woodville series on the bookshelf, thanks to Random Things Tours. Arguments ensued about who would be the first to read The Ghost in the Ivy Barn but Willow won. There are advantages to being the boss.

Scroll down to see if this book matched the joy of the previous books, The Crow Folk and Babes in the Wood.

Book Review: The Ghost in Ivy Barn by Mark Stay

Book cover for The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay. Predominately blue cover of a rural village landscape with a bright light coming from a barn.
The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay

Title: The Ghost of Ivy Barn

Author: Mark Stay

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: YA, fantasy, witchlit

Release Date: 7th July 2022

Blurb

August, 1940.

 As the Battle of Britain rages overhead, a warlock leader from the Council of High Witches comes to Woodville with a ritual to repel the imminent Nazi invasion. The only catch is it involves full-frontal nudity on the White Cliffs of Dover. The Witches of Woodville are having none of it, but when more witches arrive they realise they might have a spy in their midst, and it’s up to Faye Bright to uncover the traitor.

But she’s got enough on her plate already with the ghost of a Polish Hurricane pilot who may hold the key to the truth.

Thoughts From The Emporium

The witches didn’t think this series could get better, but they were wrong. This is the best book yet – full of humour, magic, betrayal and murder, with a slight inkling of romance between Faye and Bertie.

Like the others in the series, there is a strong sense of place – not only in location but in time. The reader is immersed in the village life which continues despite the increased threat from the Nazis invasion and they feels the collective responsibility people had. Everyone was expected to do their bit for the war effort, witches included.

Amber was excited to read about Faye Bright’s evolving powers and the surprising effects it had on the others, while Willow was hoping the antics of the trio of Woodville witches wouldn’t give her own mentee ideas. Charlotte, Mrs Teach and Faye are witches and women to aspire to with their individual quirks, self-awareness and strong views. There is a witch for everyone.

The dialogue and bickering between the characters allowed their personalities to shine and the more you get to know the witches and the side characters, the more they are loved. The introduction of new witches, including the nudity loving Mrs Housego and formidable Vera Fivetrees added to this book’s charm.

The ghost in the barn and the surrounding mystery added to the tension. With highly visual and creepy scenes, Amber, Willow and Rosa kept reading to see how this thread fitted in with the rest of the story.

Though this novel could be read as a standalone, these events lead on from those in book 2, Babes in the Wood and readers would gain more enjoyment if they read the series from the beginning and watch the relationships and story develop.

This gripping book showcases superb word building and imaginative plot twists perfectly blended with humour and community of times past. Despite the dangers the characters face, this series provide an ideal escape from reality. The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf considers them to be some of the best examples of witchy literature and they appeal to a range of ages. Rosa can’t wait until her son, Alejo, is old enough to read them.

Mrs Marley (one of the Emporium’s resident ghosts) is currently listening to the audio version and is pleased it continues to be narrated by Candida Gubbins.

Just in case you need more tempting to try this series, watch this unique unboxing of the new books

The best unboxing video to tempt you to read 📚

Author Biography

Photo of author Mark Stay.
Mark Stay

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben
Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com.

A huge thank you to Random Thing Tours for inviting us to this tour and providing an advanced copy for the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

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