blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Rules – Tracy Darnton – Guest Post from the Author*

Amber’s an expert when it comes to staying hidden – she’s been trained her whole life for it. But what happens when the person you’re hiding from taught you everything you know?
When a letter from her dad arrives, Amber knows she’s got to move – and fast. He’s managed to find her and she knows he’ll stop at nothing to draw her back into the extreme survivalist way of life he believes in.
All of a sudden the Rules she’s spent so long trying to escape are the ones keeping her safe. But for how long?

Comfort camping food for after the SHTF – Tracy Darnton, author of The Rules

The Rules has just been published – my YA thriller about a girl on the run from her prepper dad. Amber’s whole childhood was about preparing for a SHTF scenario – when the Shit Hits the Fan. Civil unrest or global pandemic, you name it, Amber and her family are ‘Prepared. Not scared’. Except her dad takes it to extremes and builds a whole set of Rules for living by which he scrawls on the walls. Amber has skills – foraging, camping, first aid, survival, to name a few.

Before we all ended up living in our own nightmarish SHTF scenario – something I didn’t ever contemplate when writing the novel last year – I was drawing on my own experience of wild (and not so wild) camping for research.

I grew up going on camping trips, mostly in Snowdonia.

Since then I’ve travelled round Australia with a tent, wild-camped on Dartmoor, stayed at endless campsites with friends and family and more recently sent my kids off to wild-camp in all manner of exciting places while I’ve looked for the nearest luxury glamping site.

I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite campfire recipes – the kind of thing Amber would be able to rustle up. I love the smell of the woods in spring when they fill with pungent wild garlic so I could share my recipe for wild garlic pesto served with hot damper bread and nettle tea. BUT instead I thought I’d share the comfort food recipe that reminds me of many camping trips. As we say in our family, camping is always an experience (just not necessarily a good one) so it helps to have a comfort recipe ready for all eventualities. Prepared. Not scared.

You will need to forage (probably from the campsite shop):


Cadbury’s flake (other chocolate bars are available)


Cut a thin slot part way down the banana skin and squash in half the flake. (Eat the other half)

Bake the banana direct on the fire coals/BBQ, or wrap in foil if you have some, until the skin has

blackened and the inside has turned into a delicious warm, gooey chocolatey mess.

Now that leaky tent with your nearest and dearest won’t seem so bad. And don’t forget to pack The Rules for torchlight reading, home or away.

Tracy Darnton’s The Rules is published by Stripes. Her first novel The Truth About Lies was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and was a World Book Night title. She lives in Bath and longs to get out of the house and go camping in Devon or Wales. She promises she will never moan about being on a camping holiday ever again.

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My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book, Amber’s a smart, determined protagonist and when the Shit Hits The Fan, in the form of the reappearance of her awful dad, she grabs her Bug Out Bag and goes.

She doesn’t quite make the clean getaway she needs but with guts aplenty and a new friend she finds the strength to stand up to the tyrant in her life and make her own rules.

This is a fantastic read that reminded me a little of Meg Rosoff’s The Way We Live Now and that’s no bad thing.

I love a strong female lead and Amber is definitely one, I’ve met a few domineering men over the last few years and the growing number of paranoid preppers, especially in the States makes this a timely read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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