Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Kid Lit Blog Hop #26

Welcome to the Kid Lit Blog Hop #26
Today and I am really excited to bring a great new
Middle Grade Mystery.....
oooohhhh, you heard it, you know I love mysteries....
Today we have the
Big Honey Dog Mysteries
by H.Y. Hanna

Description from Amazon:

Missing puppies. Deadly secrets. Serious slobber.

Honey the Great Dane enjoyed a pretty peaceful life: walking her human, checking Peemail at the park... until the arrival of a puppy named Bean turns her life upside down. But when Bean goes missing - together with other neighbourhood pups - Honey sets out on a dangerous quest to find them. Joined by her canine friends, Honey tackles mysterious paw prints and sinister hieroglyphics as clues lead them to a deserted cemetery. But an ancient Egyptian curse has awakened and time is running out... Can Honey solve a cryptic riddle in time to save the puppies? And should she trust Max, a Pit Bull with a murky past, who is hiding secrets of his own?
My Review:
 The fun starts when Honey, finds herself on the tail end of a very unfortunate guest, trying to share her doggy bed one morning. Poor Honey, her human Olivia has deserted her to go who knows where, leaving her with a Pet Sitter and a precocious Great Dane pup called Bean. Honey relishes her peaceful life with her human, so when Bean gets into mischief the moment she arrives, it doesn't bode well for the rest of the week. When Bean goes missing mysteriously, Honey can't help but try to find her. Bean may be annoying, but she is just a helpless pup after all and it turns out, she isn't the only one missing. There are pups missing all over the neighbourhood. Honey enlists the help of a hilarious cast of doggy friends, and they uncover some very mysterious clues that eventually leads them into great peril.
Honey and her friends must pool their collective knowledge of the human realm, in order to decipher the clues to solve the whereabouts of the missing pups. This was a true roller coaster ride as Honey and her friends decipher hieroglyphs, interpret a riddling parrot and confront sworn enemies as the clues to a mystery steeped in Egyptian mythology are revealed.

My favourite lines are when the dogs are talking to each other,  expressing frustration in a variety of doggy ways. Here are just a few examples..
"Oh for kibbles sake"
"Holy liver treat"
The dog's sworn enemies are referred to as "Sardine-breathed sand poopers" He He, can you guess who....  Priceless, but my absolute favourite line is when one of the dog's brings a huge bone to honour one of their fallen. Another dog asks,
"Is that from a dinosaur or something?"
The other replies,
"It's one of my 2009 batch. Well-rotted, Fishy, with a hint of cabbage. Sharp on the nose but rich in texture."
  I had equal amounts of laughing out loud and gasping in horror as the mystery is solved.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Big Honey Dog Mysteries and I am looking forward to the second book. I would recommend it to 10+ as there were some violent moments between the dogs and the villain that children younger than 10 may find scary.

5 Stars to H.Y Hanna's debut novel.

Now we have quite a treat, (no not the liver kind, sorry Honey)

H.Y Hanna is joining us in the blogosphere for an interview, hurrahhhh.

About H.Y Hanna
H.Y. Hanna is Taiwanese by birth, British by education, pseudo-American by accent and currently Australian by residence! After graduating from Oxford University, she tried a variety of jobs, from advertising in London to English Language teaching in Sydney, before returning to her first love: writing. Always fascinated by dogs, she specialised as a pet writer for magazines in the UK, Australia and NZ, and has been heavily involved in training, behaviour, dog sports and photography. When she's not working on her next novel, she's usually found watching repeats of her favourite TV show, Fringe or wiping Dane slobber off the walls.
1. How did you come up with the story for the Big Honey Dog Mysteries.

I’ve always loved reading mysteries (I was mad about Nancy Drew as a child!) and also loved reading stories told from the perspective of animals, such as Watership I thought: why not combine them in my own canine mystery! I wanted to include all the things I loved as a child – such as riddles and secret codes and mysterious puzzles – all wrapped up in a fast-paced adventure.
At the same time, I had been writing a very popular blog for my Great Dane, Honey, for about 5 years – she has a large, worldwide following of readers who love hearing about her adventures, told in her own voice – so I thought: why not do a fictional version starring a Great Dane inspired by my own dog, who then solves mysteries and goes on adventures with her canine friends.
(You can find out more about the ‘real-life Honey’ who inspired the series at: as well as see pictures of me as a little girl! )
I have been heavily involved with dog training for many years and was also a pet writer for magazines, so I’m very familiar with dog breeds and behaviour – so a lot of the characters in the story are inspired by my own experiences with dogs I’ve met. I had a lot of fun with the different “personalities” of the different breeds.
I also wanted the book to have carry some “messages” but without being preachy – to encourage children to think about some things by incorporating them in the story. One of the big topics in the dog world is breed specific prejudice – judging certain breeds based on stereotypes – which I think is similar to racism, something that children encounter & have to deal that is one of the themes I tackle in the story but through a fun tale filled with suspense & humour. The story also talks about facing your fears, as well as what it really means to be a “hero”.
2. How long did it take you to craft the story?
I started writing it in April last year (2012) but had to stop for long periods in between due to an illness in the family and then a big interstate overall, if you added the actual time I was writing together, it probably took me about 5 – 6 months to write the first draft, and then another couple of months to revise & edit it.
3. There is a lot of Egyptian mythology in the story. How much research did you do on Egypt? Did you go there too?
I’ve always loved Egyptian mythology. I remember being fascinated by it when I learnt it at school in 5th grade – so I guess I’ve always just read a lot around it and knew a lot of it. (I love Norse & Greek/Roman mythology too). So I didn’t have to do research from scratch because a lot of the background I already knew. I did do a fair amount of extra research on scarab beetles and learnt lots of fascinating facts about them and their role in Egyptian mythology but as is often the case with books, most of it didn’t make it into the story in the final edits. I’m very aware of the temptation to put information into a story just because you’ve researched it and I was very keen to make the story was as “tight” as possible and keeping it very pacey, so I was ruthless about pruning anything that wasn’t strictly needed for the story. But I hoped that there was enough there that children might be inspired to read more and learn more about hieroglyphics and Egyptian gods and things.
Oh, speaking of hieroglyphics – I’ve created a special Hieroglyhics Code Maker page on the Big Honey Dog Mysteries website, where kids can write their own names in hieroglyphics or make up secret messages to each other. Check it out – it’s very cool!
4. Did you have children beta read the story. If so, how did it change the story?
Yes, I was very lucky to have a big group of beta reader volunteers from Honey’s blog fans, which included 10 children in the 9 – 12yrs age range (boys & girls), as well as 3 teenagers and 2 adults, one of whom was a middle-grade teacher. So I had fantastic feedback on my characters, plot, pacing, etc. I was a bit concerned because I knew I had a large cast of characters and I was worried that readers might find that confusing or overwhelming but the feedback was very encouraging with everybody saying they found all the characters had distinct personalities and loved their individual “voices”. I was also worried about the ending – without giving too much away, it’s a “bittersweet” ending and parts of the story are a bit dark – so I wasn’t sure if it was too much for that age group – but I was really surprised. I think children cope far better than we adults give them credit for. If anything, it was the older readers who found it more upsetting! So overall, the beta readers didn’t change things that much – other than reassure me that I was on the right track! The best thing was hearing that they couldn’t put it down (I had delighted emails from parents) and that even the boys found the book riveting.
5. Tell us about book 2. What can we expect from Big Honey Dog?
Well, each book in the series is a standalone mystery adventure, rather than a sequel – although certain of Honey’s friends do return in each – and every story revolves around a certain dog legend or myth.
Here is a taster of Book 2:
“When Honey the Great Dane accompanies her photographer human to a dog show, the last thing she expects is to meet her doggie döppelganger! Things get even stranger when her famous ‘twin’ is mysteriously poisoned and Honey is asked to take her place in the show ring. But the glamorous world of show champions hides some ugly secrets and Honey soon finds that certain secrets – like old bones – are best left buried…”
6. Favourite Middle Grade book
Oh, I absolutely LOVE Suzanne Collins’s ‘Gregor the Overlander’ series! Sadly, they don’t seem to get as much recognition as the Hunger Games. There are 5 books in the series and I have read them over and over – and still cry at the end each time. To me, they are the perfect example of stories that focus on friendship, family, loyalty, finding yourself & your place in things, challenging your own beliefs, facing your fears...all the things middle grade should be about...but wrapped up in a fantastic adventure full of suspense and twists and wonderful world-building and brilliant characters. OK, I’ll stop now because I could gush about those books for ages and ages!
7. Chocolate or Caramel ( you know why I am asking)
Chocolate...but it would have to be Dark Chocolate. Preferably with strawberries.
8. If you could go somewhere in time, where would you go?
I’d love to go back to the time when women wore those gorgeous dresses with the enormous hoop skirts – like in Gone with the Wind. I’m sure the reality of wearing them would be horribly uncomfortable but they do look so romantic!!
9. Advice to new and independent authors?
I know this is repeated over and over and is such cliched advice but: read a lot of books. Seriously. I think the best education on craft & improving your writing comes from reading good books (and some bad ones too, so you can recognise the difference). It’s worth far more than all the writing courses you can go on. After that, I think beta readers are worth their weight in gold. But you do need to find those who are your target audience (eg, it would be pointless asking a football loving guy to give feedback on a chicklit romance!) – and they need to be honest and not just tell you nice things because they’re your friends. Children are great for this, I think, because their reactions are very honest and they can’t fake interest/attention in something – so they’re a great test of whether your book is a page-turner.
As for the publishing side of things, I think researching thoroughly so you know what you’re getting into – whether it’s the traditional or the independent publishing route – the pros & cons of each and being realistic about what you are capable of/comfortable with – is really important. If you decide to self-publish, then again READ lots of indie author blogs, join writer groups & forums focused on self-publishing and try to learn as much as possible about the process and the marketing required, so you can be prepared. I also believe it’s worth investing in professionals to do the cover and editing because there is already a certain resistance to self-published books in many circles so the least you can do is make your book look as professional as the traditionally-published ones next to it on the (virtual) shelf!
Well that was an awesome interview. Thankyou Hsin-Yi, ( ha hoom, pronounced Sin-Yi in case you are wondering hoppers.
Now Where can we find out more and where to buy.
Amazon: | Amazon UK:

Check out the  Big Honey Dog Mysteries website, including book discussions, questions & fun activity sheets. 

Welcome to the 26th Kid Lit Blog Hop,which marks the 1 year anniversary of the very first Kid Lit Blog Hop. We have come a long way since then with many familiar faces that visit on a regular basis as well as new bloggers and authors who join us all the time. All in all, we have managed to create a dynamic and engaged community of children's books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists, as well as parents seeking out their next great read. So, if you haven't joined us in a while, please pop in a post and hop around to meet some of the new bloggers who have joined the Hop. If you are one of our regulars - thank you so much and Happy Hopping to all! Best 4 Future BlogWe are pleased to announce that we have a new part-time permanent hostess, Lina from the blog Best 4 Future, Bringing up Baby Bilingual. Lina will be joining us every 3rd Wednesday of the month as hostess. Big welcome to Lina!! Also joining us as co-hostess this week is Charity Kountz, author of the book Jason, Lizzy and the Snowman Village, which we have reviewed recently. Big welcome to Charity as well!! Please be sure to give each of our hostesses a visit to say a quick hello and we'll be sure to visit you right back!

Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

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  1. Yay for dogs! I voted on the cover design and fell in love with it then. I can't wait to read it. Sounds perfect and I enjoyed your interview.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Cool Mom. I think you will enjoy it and possibly Stanley too, lol

  2. My daughter saw the cover and said, "oh, what's that book?" and after reading the review decided it sounded like one she'd love to read. Thanks for linking to the hop.

    1. I have so much fun reading this book with equal amounts of nail biting. I think your daughter will love it.

  3. Happy hoppy birthday Julie! That was a great interview with Hsin-Yi and it made me really interested in the books. See you!!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Jemima, yet another mystery to add to your pile, he he. I know you love them.

  4. This sounds wonderful even if there's a bittersweet ending. I also loved Nancy Drew as a kid and Watership Down so I have a feeling I'll want to read this book before giving it to an older niece.

    1. I loved Nancy Drew too as a kid and Cam Jansen series. I don't know many kids that don't love a good mystery. This one was really unique, a few scary moments so depending on the age of your niece, I think she will really enjoy it

  5. Thanks for sharing this review. My son would probably like this book.

    1. Hi Keitha, I hope you grab a copy. It was a great read. Thanks for stopping by

  6. Thanks for sharing this great interview, Julie!
    And I love your new blog header!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Katie. Yes, we have had a make over care of a very good friend who knows how dreadful I am at blog layout. I am glad you enjoyed the interview.

  7. Oh wow, Julie - thank you SO much for featuring my book! What a fantastic write-up...I feel so honoured and it was so exciting to have my first "author interview'. I'm so pleased that you enjoyed it - and especially your favourite line, which is one of my personal favourites too but so far, you're the first person who has mentioned it - ha! ha!

    Thanks again - and also to everybody who commented - I do hope you'll grab a copy and that you'll enjoy it! :-)

    Hsin-Yi (& Slobbers from Honey)

    1. It was a total pleasure Hsin-Yi. We wish you all the best and can't wait for the next instalment.

  8. Honna's experience makes me wonder. She is an Asian by birth but spend lots of her adult time in the West. I am quite curious about her book. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Yes Hsin-Yi has had a wonderfully broad experience of the world, which I think shows up in her writing. I hope you pick up a copy, it was a delight to read

  9. It sounds like a great book, especially for dog-loving kids! I'm thinking - why separate your chocolate and caramel? I like them both together! Also, going to steampunk events is an easy chance to put on big, romantic dresses without the difficulty of actually traveling back to the Victorian era.

  10. Thanks for your great review and interview with Hsin-Yi. She has quite the background! The book sounds really fantastic - I love a good mystery as well and I adored reading the Nancy Drew (and Hardy Boy) books as well. Thanks for hosting the Hop once again Julie and best wishes to Hsin-Yi.