Praise for Barbara Spencer
The Click of a Pebble
Joscelyn S Reviewer on Net Gallery. This was a great coming of age fantasy story. I really enjoyed seeing these young characters struggle to survive in the aftermath of the massacre that leaves them only each other to depend on. Their journey drew me in and had me reading this entire book in one sitting, I'm looking forward to reading more books set in this fascinating world.
The Click of a Pebble is Book One of a prequel trilogy to Ms Spencer’s The Year the Swans Came. It opens some eighteen years previously with the slaughter of a strange community who live on an island in the Bay of Biscay. There are only three survivors—the young teenager Yöst, four-year old Zande and two-year old Tatania. They can only guess their ages, as birthdays are not celebrated in the world of the carinatae, swan-men, Children of Zeus. The three children are rescued and, as danger still threatens, are sent to live with Ramon and Pascual whose remote farm already shelters a diverse group of people with no questions asked.
Here Yöst learns to live as a human, to accept his responsibilities towards the two younger children in particular but also towards the community which has taken them in. He and the others keep their secret, but he can neither resist the pull of his native wild nature nor postpone the inevitable transformation once he reaches the right age.
This is an intense and intriguing story. We feel for and with Yöst as he is torn between two visions of happiness. Can he choose domesticity or is he fated to leave the farm and those he has come to love? And, if he goes, what will become of his loved ones? Once again, Ms Spencer leaves us wanting more.
Jeanette Taylor Ford *****Having read The Year The Swans Came, I was excited to read this first book about the beginning of the mysterious Zande’s life. The story begins when Zande is very small, about five years old. A massive tragedy leaves Zande, a tiny girl called Tatania and an older boy of about thirteen called Yost, entirely alone, their mothers and companions having been brutally murdered. Although this does indeed begin Zande’s story, this book is really Yost’s story.
Yost, Zande and Tata become used to their new life with a family on a farm and Yost discovers the character building results of working rather than the life of ease he’d lived before, and the comforting love of living with a family with all their diversities of characters. It is a ‘coming of age’ story really, and the discovery of who he is, apart from being a ‘Child of Zeus’, or Carinatae – part man, part swan. We also learn more about the nature of the carinatae, which was somewhat puzzling in the other book at first, especially with regard to what happened to Peter.
The skilful ‘pen’ of Barbara Spencer brings all her characters to life so that the reader can’t help ‘knowing’ them and loving each one with all their curiosities and differences in the people they are, brought about by their life experiences before they came together. I was totally involved with Yost as he learned to work and to open up in response to love and caring shown towards him, helping to eventually dispel the nightmares brought to him by the terrible experience of witnessing the massacre of his people.
I am looking forward to being able to read the next book.
The Year the Swans Came
***** An intriguing mix of fact and fantasy that I loved.
It didn't take me long to get into this story. I found it gripping and intriguing. As far as I can recall, it never once mentioned Amsterdam, but nevertheless, that's where my imagination set it. I had just been there on a day trip when I started reading this book and my memories of my previous visit seemed to fit right in with the descriptions of the setting, besides realising that the names were probably of Dutch origin. I did realise some of it, before the explanations were revealed, knowing that it was partly fantasy (I'm not giving any spoilers here.) It touched my imagination and fed my romantic nature gently so that I was reluctant to put it down when I had to and looked forward to reading on as soon as I got the chance.
Needless to say, I loved it; it was different. The descriptions were exquisite and I was there, seeing and experiencing everything going on with Maidy. To me, this book was a triumph. Well done, Ms Spencer
Allibongo ***** Captivating This book captivated me from the beginning, I struggled to put it down the characters leapt out of the text and formed images in my mind. Wonderful
A Great Read ***** The Year the Swans Came” was a beautifully-written, compelling story with truly unforgettable characters. This historical fiction with elements of fantasy/supernatural essentially dwells on the two subjects that run parallel in this novel - love and friendship - and on the importance of both as the consequences of one wrong decision may be indeed deadly. I absolutely loved the central heroine, Maidy, and I grew to actively dislike her “best friend,” Ruth. Both coping with the aftermath of the war and their small town rebuilding its life, they differ greatly personality-wise, which eventually leads to a rapt between the two and inevitable tragedy. The mystery surrounding the swans, even though it mostly takes place in the very end, added even more to an already fascinating story, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’d definitely recommend it. an ARC provided for an honest review. It’s an intriguing story, characterisation and a world that is most definitely ours – with an edge. I recommend this novel
P.J.B. ***** Intriguing
I read Swans with great pleasure from an ARC provided for an honest review.
It’s an intriguing story, built on legend, with twists and turns that keep the story fresh. It’s pleasurably written, with good characterisation and a world that is most definitely ours – with an edge. I recommend this novel for any who enjoy fantasy with a difference – fantasy that takes readers down the path of true imagination. Beautifully contrived.at takes readers down the path of
Waterstones “Atmospheric and well written” *****Dorothy Leverick
I have just finished reading this book and I couldn't put it down. The setting was very atmospheric and it was beautifully written. The characters were really interesting and it was a tantalising tale. I look forward to the next book! Paperback edition
Amazon.com ***** from Davida De la Harpe.
The Year the Swans Came
Read this Book. It is a work of art.
What a wonderful book. The writer somehow recreates the ambience of 17th century paintings, but with a twist of in the story that places the action in a skewed modern setting. Then the fables come to life. The characters are beautifully developed, and though the story rushes to the inevitable conclusion the journey is wonderful. I can only recommend it highly.
From: Catherine Kullmann Goodreads*****As Maidy Bader anxiously awaits her sixteenth birthday, the day on which ‘overnight girls become adults, eligible to be courted, and to marry’ her thoughts return to the past and most importantly to her elder brother Pieter’s sixteenth birthday, the last he spent with his family. No one speaks of him or why he vanished. Life goes on as it always did in the unnamed country. The unnamed invaders have left and those deportees who could, have returned. Among them are the Bader’s neighbours, the Endelbaums. Their beautiful daughter Ruth, who is Maidy’s best friend, has had to give up her hopes of marrying Pieter. Slightly older than Maidy, Ruth is the belle of the college the girls attend while Maidy stays more in the background.
On Maidy’s birthday, everything changes. Maidy begins to emerge from her chrysalis. Pieter returns as suddenly as he departed, but gives no explanation for his long absence. Ruth immediately claims him, but she is also intrigued by the four strangers, handsome young men, who suddenly appear at the college. She takes their attention and interest as her due but Maidy is surprised to find herself sought out both by gentle Jaan and the strangers’ leader, the charismatic and mysterious Zande. And Pieter is desperate to marry Ruth and complete his apprenticeship with his father, a maker of mirrors.
But all is not as it seems. This is not a college romance. Unimaginable secrets swirl beneath the surface of daily life and all too soon the unwitting Maidy and Ruth are drawn into the vortex of an ancient tragedy that threatens them all anew.
I was blown away by this book, enthralled by the beautiful writing, the slow build-up of the mesmerizing story and the wonderful characters. Magical realism of the highest order.
I sat down one Saturday afternoon with a cup of coffee ready to dive into the new book, Time Breaking, that this year’s book club had chosen. After the first few pages of hearing how Molly, the main character, was struggling with her parents and school work, I was not enthusiastic about the enjoying the rest of the book. However, a couple of chapters in, she disappeared…not from the story but from the present day, back to the 17th Century. I was hooked, the past came to life, Molly’s descriptions of the clothes, the food and the people enabled me to conjure up vivid images of what it must have been like. I read on, Molly had to try and get back to the present day, however was torn between leaving a family she came to love to return to one who seemed to ignore her…did she make it…you’ll have to read the book to find out!
Miss Maisey, Sandhurst School
Dear Barbara Spencer, My name is Lydia and I bought one of your books, Time Breaking, in Waterstones (Bridport) on Saturday. I had to wait to read it as I had to go to work - but when I got home, I picked it up and was enchanted from the first page! It is something teenagers, as a 16 year old myself, can relate to, and I was completely drawn in. I read the entire book in four hours; I couldn't put it down. I was entranced by Molly's special story, it was so human and real, with deep messages hidden underneath a really nice story. I liked how it had a historical point of view as well as the modern day view, and it captured my heart quite literally. I am so glad I met you in Waterstones, and I hope to buy more of your books in the future. As the Deputy Head Girl of my school, I will highly be recommending this to all of my friends and the school!Thank you for creating such a lovely book, and for signing my copy! From,Lydia Roberts :)
Seen through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old girl, Time Breaking offers a fascinating snapshot of life in a by-gone era. And many teens today will able to identify with Molly and the challenges and frustrations she deals with in her modern life. An excellent read – I haven’t enjoyed a book so much for ages.’
Somerset School Librarian
Miss Spencer strikes again with an incredible story that will pull you in and not let you go. This woman deserves way more recognition than she gets for her superb story-telling, and she's a wonderful lady as well (I've met her and have a signed copy of 'Running', another of her novels). So I'm starting my review by saying: READ THIS! Especially if you love historical fiction/fantasy/time-travel. I really can't praise this book enough. Time Breaking is a stellar example of historical fiction, unputdownable, emotional and it just plain blew me away. Wow.
The Magic of Reading, February 2012
Hi I'm Megan, I saw you in Waterstones the other week and bought a copy of your book Time Breaking, you asked me to email you and tell you what I thought of it so here I am. I really enjoyed it, it was all so detailed I felt like I really knew Molly and her family. I liked Janet and Anne and the rest of the family especially Edward who I thought was really cute: I'm planning to read Running as well and am looking forward to it.
This is Jasmine (met you at a book signing in Bedford). Sorry I've taken a while to get back to you. I was half way through a few other books so I had to finish them before starting 'Time breaking'.
Time Breaking was an amazing story with a strong plot. I read it very quickly as I could barely put the book down! I loved how the scenery was described; it made me feel like I was actually there! The fact that it was written from Molly's point of view made it interesting and gave you a feel of what life was like then.
I learnt many new words and ways of describing things by looking up any words I didn't know up in a dictionary.
Time Breaking is a great book and I have recommended it to my friends as I feel they would also really enjoy it. I will keep an eye out for any other books written by you so that I can read them too!
I think Turning Point is an excellent piece of fiction. Strong all the way through, my favourite part has got to be the bomb in the UN(Chapter 5). The Characters are interesting and the plot is engaging. Absolutely fantastic.
Enoc Mukugu,Age 12, Bedford School.
‘Running’ is an amazing book which is perfect for readers of thrillers and adventure. Nothing is what it appears to be. Surprises and shocks jump out at you from every page. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to thriller lovers.
Caroline Brodersen, Thomas Keble School
‘Running’ is pretty much that epic novel that we would all like to read but have yet to find, only in this case I have found it. The journey across the what used to be the UK is pretty amazing (England, Scotland and Wales are classed as Europe now) and it never lets up. There's fights, spies, a few who-dunnits to puzzle through and a few OMG moments that will leave you a bit stunned.
To Barbra love the books so glad you came in the moment I met you I knew you were amazing!!!!!
I'm currently reading Turning Point. I love it
A Serious Case of Chicken-itis
Just read Chickenitis to Annie (just 5). She loved it! Wide eyed and clucking away! And she knew ALL the magic words. Wow, it's full on!
The Chickenitis story has gone down a storm, and I am looking forward to it hopefully becoming a favourite with my girls.
Many thanks again and kind regards Phil 'Lottie's Dad !!!'
A Dangerous Game of Football
My name is James and I enjoyed meeting you at the book signing at Waterstones, Cirencester on 30th June.
I have finished 'Fishy Tale' and as promised I wanted to write and tell you my thoughts. I thought the story was fandabiedozie, it was the most exciting book I have read myself.
Three words I would use to describe the book are:
Lars from Newbury: 'I love this book A Dangerous Game Of Football, it
always want you to read on, so gripping and wonderful I hoped it would
Dear Barbara Spencer,
I am writing to tell you how much i enjoyed your book- A Dangerous Game Of Football. My name is Abbie, I am 11 years old and I met you in Waterstones in Yeovil.
My favourite part of the story was when Bud the camel first appeared to Jack. It is my favourite part because it was funny and I could picture the expression on his face when Bud walked out of the wall. I just wanted to read on and find out why Bud had come in the first place.
Hello Barbara Spencer,
My name is Kate and I live in Gloucester. I was in Cheltenham not long ago and I met you in Waterstones and you sold me your last book! I loved the book it was a dangerous game of football and it was really good. I am not really into those kind of books, I am into more Girly books but I thought the book was great and I really enjoyed reading it. It also didn't take me very long to read because I liked it a lot and the more I kept reading it the more I wanted to find out what happened next!
Thank you for recommending the book to me. I thought it was a really exciting fun book to read. I am also going to purchase some more of your books.
To Barbara Spencer
I have read your book and absolutely loved it. I met you in waterstones at Bristol and talked to you about Darren Shan. I'm so glad I met you at Bristol or I wouldn't have read your book, it's a great mixture of adventure, football, and humour. I definitely rate it 5 stars *****.
From Tom Griffiths, Bristol
I have read both of the books (A Dangerous Game Of Football and The Bird Children) and I really enjoyed them both. My favourite character is Bud because he's grumpy and sarcastic which is funny. I really like both of the books but my favourite is the Bird children.
from Megan(Bristol,1st October)
I don't know if you remember me, but my name is Richard Burnett and I am eleven years old, I live in Reading Berkshire. I met you in Waterstones in Reading when you called me over and asked me if I was interested in any of your books. You had a nice chat with my mum, and showed me The Bird Children. I was quite excited to start reading it, as I had met you, and wondered what you could've written for a boy my age. The cover made me want to read it more. When I got home I must say, I couldn't put it down! I still find it fascinating how you're a woman yet you've written such a brilliant book for a boy! I plan to buy some of your other books in the future, and hope to meet you again sometime.
Thank you for writing this fabulous book!
From Richard Burnett :)
Hi Barbara just to let you know I loved the book finished it in about 4 days couldn't stop reading. I've showed my friend Abi and she wants her dad to buy her one of your books. I think I might read The Running next time not sure. My choice is between The Running or Time Breaking. Which one do you suggest?
From Amber Hocking
I don't know if you remember me, but my name is Richard and I am eleven years old, I live in Reading Berkshire. I met you in Waterstones in Reading when you called me over and asked me if I was interested in any of your books. You had a nice chat with my mum, and showed me The Bird Children. I was quite excited to start reading it, as I had met you, and wondered what you could've written for a boy my age. The cover made me want to read it more. When I got home I must say, I couldn't put it down! I still find it fascinating how you're a woman yet you've written such a brilliant book for a boy! I plan to buy some of your other books in the future, and hope to meet you again sometime.
Thank you for writing this fabulous book!
From Richard :)
Hi Barbra I've finished dangerous game off football it was so funny I'm now on the bird children Henry