books, instagram

On Bookstagram Today: The Reluctant Vampire Queen – Jo Simmons

Head over to Instagram today to see my thoughts on new book The Reluctant Vampire Queen – info on the book and author below.

Meet Mo Merrydrew – independent young woman, Mini Battenberg fan, president of the debating society – and reluctant vampire queen …

Fifteen-year-old Mo Merrydrew isn’t exactly expecting to be asked to be Vampire Queen of Great Britain when she’s cycling home from school one wet Tuesday evening. Apparently, she is ‘the Chosen One’. Aside from being uncomfortable with the idea of unelected power (not very democratic), there’s the blood drinking to consider (Mo is a vegetarian), and frankly it’s just not really the sort of role Mo’s looking for (she wants to aim for a real job in politics). But – if you’re Vampire Queen, you probably don’t have to do PE any more, and when the dreamy Luca, a vampire familiar, turns up, it all suddenly starts to look a bit more appealing …

Jo Simmons is an author of funny fiction. I Swapped My Brother on the Internet was shortlisted for the Lollies Book Awards 2020 and was translated into several languages. Jo began her working life as a sub editor on magazines in London and later became a freelance journalist. She started writing for children when her two boys were young and hungry for daft and silly stories to make bedtime more fun. She lives in Brighton with her family and a small, scruffy dog who leaves hair absolutely everywhere. THE RELUCTANT VAMPIRE QUEEN is her first novel for teenagers. Twitter

blog tour, books, instagram

Instagram Tour: Atonement Camp for Redemption – Evan J. Corbin

Head over to Instagram to find out my thoughts on today’s book – sequel to Atonement Camp for Unrepentant Homophobes

Rick Harris finds himself back at a place he never thought he’d return—the Atonement Camp. With Marilyn now serving as camp director, Rick turns away from his empty home—and his equally vacant pursuits with headless online suiters—to accept a job teaching at the camp. With Garrett missing, Rick and his friends soon learn that there’s more to the jobs they were offered than they were led to believe.

Meanwhile, Missy Bottom seeks revenge against Rick and those who thwarted her plan: to invalidate the New Revelation and gain her esteemed Luminary membership. Caught in the middle of warring factions of Luminaries and camp spies, Rick and his friends struggle to uncover Missy’s plans while concealing their true purpose at camp from those who begin to suspect their teaching credentials are somewhat lacking.

Old enemies become allies as Rick and his friends are forced to choose between those who would seek to invalidate the New Revelation and sacrifice all the newfound LGBTQ freedoms that came with it, and those who would leverage the ancient teaching for retribution. Rick faces an equally intractable decision—whom does he truly love? And why? Rick soon learns that the answer to those questions may be the key to solving more than one problem.

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

books, reviews

Readalong Round Up: Wish You Were Here – Jodi Picoult

I love Jodi Picoult’s books, they always make you think and question, which I feel is pretty important in the world we live in. I took part in the Tandem Collective’s readalong over on Instagram but as my talents do not lie in creating reels or stories (is it just me that can’t seem to get half the functions to work properly?) There was also a DM chat group but I won’t be sharing anyone else’s thoughts.

This is a book set in the very recent past and dealing with 2020’s Covid-19 outbreak, lockdowns etc. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do reading about something that’s still ongoing and very raw. This is how I got on.

Diana O’Toole’s life is going perfectly to plan. At twenty-nine, she’s up for promotion to her dream job as an art specialist at Sotheby’s and she’s about to fly to the Galápagos where she’s convinced her surgeon boyfriend, Finn, is going to propose.

But then the virus hits New York City and Finn breaks the news: the hospital needs him, he has to stay. But you should still go, he insists. And reluctantly, she agrees.

Once she’s in the Galápagos, the world shuts down around her, leaving Diana stranded – albeit in paradise. Completely isolated, with only intermittent news from the outside world, Diana finds herself examining everything that has brought her to this point and wondering if there’s a better way to live.

But not everything is as it seems . . .

I was quite cross with the cavalier attitude on display here and my first instinct was to shout “don’t be so bloody stupid and irresponsible!” Going to a tiny island in the Pacific with limited health care resources is incredibly selfish. Diana should stay in New York and support Finn. But then they don’t know how absolutely devastatingly terrible things will get.

I like Abuela, she rescued a very stupid Diana, who didn’t appreciate that the hotel would be shut, even though she was warned about the lockdown before she got on the ferry. Gabriel is probably right to be upset, the world has just turned upside down and he’s worried about his family and his home. He shouldn’t be yelling at his grandmother though. Have some respect.

I can understand his motivations a bit more, he just wants to keep his family safe and he’s been through a lot. I think he and Diana will get to know each other better and explore the island.

I know that Darwin came up with The Origin of the Species and his theory of natural selection (although not the first to do so or unique) after visiting the Galapagos Islands and seeing the distinct differences in species between different islands. Gabriel is paraphrasing “history is written by the victors”, attributed to Winston Churchill. It means we don’t hear the losing sides version of events, only the successes.

I know a lot of people clapped for carers and volunteered for mutual aid things. I did the shopping for one neighbour who was quarantined and fed another’s cat when she was hospitalised (not with covid). I just wish it had lasted longer and been more permanent, we seem to have gone right back to being selfish even though it’s not over (I still shop for my neighbour and feed cats for those in hospital).

I think Diana is starting to feel very comfortable with Gabriel and he seems lonely, so it’s perhaps inevitable that something might happen.

Nina Simone’s version is one of my favourite pieces of music, a real Desert Island Disc choice.

OK, didn’t see this coming. I couldn’t get my stupid Stories to work and is this a huh? face – 😕 cos that’s how I felt.

I think Finn is dealing with a lot, and something that feels huge, and new, to Diana isn’t to him. He’s been living with the new realities of lockdown and working on the front line for a while now.

Wait! What? Please explain. I’m so confused. 🥴

So, I didn’t really do any of these because I can’t work those functions (my brain can’t cope with technology, also my phone hates me) so that was that then. I don’t know enough South American actors to cast anyone, because it would need to be accurate. I did do a flatlay, photo thing, you can see it here.

My overall thoughts: I immediately thought of my friend telling me about her sister who was working on coral reefs on another tiny island when covid hit. She had to leave her dream job and fly home when they closed the island – and the project is on hold so she’s stuck at home with no job, hard to be a marine biologist in London, and no idea if she can ever go back. Millions of people had their lives turned upside down in the last two years and with no end in sight, this will keep happening.

As the book progressed I got seduced by the idyllic island life Diana was leading, which then gets thrown into chaos by what happens next. Which I won’t spoil but will say that the second half of the book was very, very different to the first.

Once Diana is back in New York, dealing with events, working out if her relationship, job, life, is even what she wants anymore, I struggled a bit. Like many people I lost loved ones last year and it has been really hard. My mum is a nurse, and while she was covering for her colleagues who were drafted into hospitals (she retires next year and my dad is high risk so she was doing other duties behind the scenes), I saw some of what medical professionals were going through.

Last year was just horrible and maybe this book is just a bit too soon, and as things are starting to crack again with new variants and restrictions and the future is so uncertain, I just don’t quite know how I feel about this book.

Have you read this book? Maybe you were in a book group like I was for the readalong, let me know your thoughts in the comments. Is it too soon for literature about 2020? When is the right time? I’d really love to hear other people’s thoughts.

blog tour, books, instagram, reviews

Blog Tour: Love and Other Sins – Emilia Ares

Over on Instagram today I’m reviewing Love and Other Sins by Emilia Ares, but as getting lots of info onto a tiny square is tricky, I’m posting more about the book here. Read on for a Q&A with the author and check out the link above for my thoughts.

Oliver and Mina develop a strong bond as the threads of their old lives begin to unravel and they are forced to reckon with family history that violently refuses to remain in the past. Love and Other Sins is a moving story about what it means to be young and vulnerable in today’s society.

“I wanted to tell the story of a first-generation Russian immigrant girl and a street-wise foster care system boy who find love,” Ares, known as an actress for roles in American Horror Story and Bosch. “Love and Other Sins discusses the nuanced experience of growing up in America with immigrant parents as well as the critical flaws of the foster care system.”Readers who fell for Looking for Alaska and Thirteen Reasons Why will devour Love and Other Sins.

Emilia Ares is an American film and television actress. Love and Other Sins is her debut novel. She graduated UCLA with a BA in Economics, and a minor in Russian. Literature and storytelling have always been her true passion.

Connect with Ares at EmiliaAres.com, and on Instagram and TikTok @EmiliaAres.

Q&A with Love and Other Sin author Emilia Ares


1) You’ve been a working actress for many years, how has writing fit into your life or how did you transition to writing?

Funny enough, I began writing while on one of my sets. I was doing a film and sometimes we have to wait for hours in between takes. In those situations, it’s best to do something to take your mind off the scene in order to keep the acting fresh and the reactions surprising. Reading is a great go-to but there had been this story and these characters–Oliver and Mina, who were living in my head and nagging at my brain. I just had to get them on paper, so-to-speak. I wrote a chapter of their story into my notes on my iPhone and I also jotted down what else would probably happen later on in the story. When I got back to town, I wanted to show it to my younger sister, Sofia, who was reading a lot of YA at the time–she ended up becoming an English major. She’s the one who encouraged me to keep writing and turn it into a book. She said she loved it and couldn’t wait for more. I don’t think Love and Other Sins would have existed without her encouragement.


2) What have you learned about storytelling from TV projects you’ve acted in like American Horror Story and Bosch?

I’ve learned a ton about storytelling from the TV and film projects I’ve acted in, especially the importance of a strong emotional connection with my characters. Creating a backstory for my characters on and off the screen was vital. More times than not, my character’s backstory was not provided to me either because the project was high profile and the full script was kept under-wraps or because I was playing a guest-star whose history was not explicitly discussed or mentioned in the script itself. So, I’d have to invent the backstory.

That process is very similar to writing characters in a book. I used my knowledge of how the character was described in the breakdown that was provided during the casting process including any traits, qualities, strengths, weaknesses, quirks. I would then make an educated guess about what this person ultimately wants/needs from life, taking into consideration the character arc in the scene/overall story to create a reasonable history for them. In the case of American Horror Story, I would ask myself where does Princess Anastasia Romanova come from? What makes her tick? What life events shaped her? Empowered her? Scarred her? What are her secrets? And how do those things effect how she walks, talks, speaks, ect. The backstory is usually never discussed but always exists in the thoughts of these characters which ultimately informs their actions. The more specific the backstory, the richer–what actor’s call–“the life” of the character is.

This was great practice for when it came time to create Oliver and Mina’s backstories. I would just pretend they were characters I was going to play. I entered their minds the way I would when I played my characters on set. This might be a different approach than most traditional writers and it’s most likely why I wrote in first person. I was documenting the moments as if they were happening to me in real time. Later, I rewrote the novel into past tense to give the story­telling and pacing more flexability.


3) Why was it important for you to write young people who are independent and self-reliant on parental support to go after their goals?

I honestly didn’t set out with the goal to write independent and self-reliant characters. I just wanted them to be interesting and as it turns out, self-reliant people must interest me. But I’m glad Oliver

and Mina developed into the people they became because there are plenty of teenagers out there who are on their own and could use someone like Oliver to identify with.

Mina is actually very reliant on her mother for moral support when we first meet her. However, this novel begins during the part of her life when she starts to break free from that support and she ventures off to discover who she is and what she wants. She will have many hardships ahead. We get to follow her down that tumultuous road and witness her slay the dragons or succumb. Oliver, on the other hand, built himself up from the most terrible circumstances and found his own silver-lining. He doesn’t have any family. He’s alone, therefore he’s independent out of necessity, not choice. I hope his story is inspirational to the youth that feel hopeless.


4) How did your own young adulthood prepare you to write this book?

My time as a teenager was as dramatic and angsty as anyone else’s. Everyday there was drama, rumors, gossip, bullying. No matter how hard I tried to keep my head down it felt as though it was inescapable. When I talk to my adult friends about their high-school experiences, I come to understand that we all felt that way. You know, it’s funny…as trivial as everything seems now, in the grand scheme of things, some of those moments really did matter and did shape me into who I am today. The most painful moments became the biggest life lessons. I knew what I had to do to never feel that way again. I learned who I had to stay away from and who I had to gravitate toward. It wasn’t all bad though, I had some great friends to get me through the tough parts. Those were the parts that were most similar to my life. Nyah was written based on a combination of a few of my friends and my sister. Lily was inspired by my mom.


5) What books and authors inspired you along the way?

The Stranger by Albert Camus because it challenged everything I ever knew or thought I knew about the hero of a story and made me feel so uncomfortable reading it.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky not only for the revelation this novel brought to literature but also for the story behind writing it. Dostoevsky didn’t write it because he wanted to, he wrote it out of necessity. He wrote what he knew, the conditions and ramifications of a sick, drunk, impoverished Russia.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins because by the time 2008 rolled around, so much had already been written and said about a potential post-apocalyptic nation but somehow, Collins was able to put forth a fresh take on dystopia. I admire that very much. There is always more room for your voice, your perspective, your story.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe because, again, it was very critically controversial. People didn’t know how to feel about it. On the one hand, Achebe ended up writing it in English, the language of colonialism which caused disagreement amongst many African critics in regards to the ultimate message of the novel. On the other hand, this was a novel that went against most of what was written about African culture at the time. It showed European colonialism from a different perspective portraying Igbo life from the point of view of an African man, a rich and sophisticated culture with a deep history, language, and beliefs.

But some of the first books and authors who inspired my love for storytelling were, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.


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

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Tandem Readalong Round Up: The Madness of Crowds – Louise Penny

Recently I took part in Tandem Collective‘s readalong for Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds. This was over on Instagram, where as you might have noticed I rarely post, mostly because things like reels and stories are beyond me – I just can’t seem to get them to work for me! I thought it might be fun to do a little round up here and on Instagram, so you can learn a bit more about the book.

Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns to Three Pines in #1 New York Times bestseller Louise Penny’s latest spellbinding novel, The Madness of Crowds.

You’re a coward.

Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache.

It starts innocently enough.

While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.

They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson’s views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart.

Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.

Abigail Robinson promises that, if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.

When a murder is committed it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.

And the madness of crowds.

I think he’ll open a serious investigation, it could have gone horribly wrong and people could have died.

I’m not sure, much like the agents, I can’t quite figure it all out. Armand is also thinking a few steps ahead of his team and seems to be planning to get a confession.

I thought this was a really interesting theory and can see how it applies to people getting swept up into Abigail’s rhetoric and also how her theory could lead to truly terrible things – like genocide, what one country does, others may follow.

Armand obviously has skin in the game, as it were, in the form of Idola, but Myrna is a scientist and isn’t thinking about it in an emotional sense – more the theoretical sense.

I don’t think she can be involved, too many coincidences would need to align to involve her. But she does represent an interesting addition to the debate raging throughout the book. Suspect-wise, I’m curious about Abigail, who has so many secrets and the chancellor – she knows more than she’s saying.

I’m at a loss, too many theories. Too many possibilities – lots of potential red herrings on offer here.

Gamache definitely has something but I think he needs to flesh it out a bit more if he wants to make an arrest and get a conviction.

I thought it was possibly the chancellor, protecting Abigail once again – but she had something to lose if she went to prison – her husband wouldn’t cope without her. I’ve read a few of the books before and have some on my kindle to go back to.

Armand – maybe Jean Reno, Isabelle, I thought perhaps Carole Bianic who played a French cop in Hudson & Rex (yes of course I watch a TV show where one of the detectives is a lovely, clever good boy), Jean-Guy I would maybe cast Roger Cross, who is Jamaican-Canadian and has played cops before and I like as an actor.

Jean Reno
Carole Bianic
Roger Cross

I couldn’t do the reel as my phone and I had a massive fight and I may have thrown it on the floor and shouted “technology is stupid”, I mean I like books and the concept of the printed word isn’t exactly new. That is basically my level of tech prowess.

As for flatlays, I am apparently not allowed to go and get a hunk of wood (the murder weapon) or some disabled people (Abigail’s theory) and photograph them on my floor so please enjoy the photo I took of the book instead.

I really enjoyed this book and having to think about different points in the book in more detail than maybe I would otherwise. Having read a few of the books in this series before I felt like I knew a bit about the characters but since this is set in the village Gamache lives in I learnt more about his family and friends which was interesting. The ethical debate at the heart of the plot is one I know that divides and upsets lots of people. Assisted suicide is legal in Canada, unlike the UK, and Abigail has taken it to a logical, if morally lacking, extreme conclusion with her statistical research. It’s deliberately shocking and the different viewpoints that the characters put forward were thought provoking and engaging. A really clever and enjoyable book.

Have you read any of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books? If so, what did you think? What did you like or not like? Talk to me!

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Readalong: Mer-May – Tenebrasco by Hannah Reed

mer may

I have a fun announcement for you all! 

Starting May 1st, there will be a read-along of Hannah Reed’s YA Fantasy, Tenebrasco! The read-along will last a month and each week there will be specific chapters to read. Of course, people can read at their own pace too. Starting today, you can download Tenebrasco for free until the 17th (April 15 – 17) from Amazon!

Each weekend one of the hosts will do an IG live to talk about the chapters of the book that week, themes within the book, mermaids and even interview the author. 

Throughout MerMay there will be competitions, prizes and a free giveaway! 

Anyone who joins will also receive a bonus epilogue to Tempus, the final book in the Pearl Wielders series!

Book Cover

Mermay Read-Along!

Tenebrasco 

Publication Date: July 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy/ Mermaids

Mer. Magic. Adventure.

Princess April Meridia is preparing for the long awaited Peace Treaty to unite the mer and legged after centuries divided. The most powerful mera under the sea her only instruction for the evening is to look ‘pretty and harmless’.

But when peace is threatened and April’s powers start acting strangely it is time for her to take control.

Amazon

About the Author

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Hannah Reed writes YA contemporary fantasy. Her latest novel ‘Essentia’ Book 2 of the Pearl Wielder Trilogy is out now (available on Amazon).

Her first novel ‘Tenebrasco’ was published in July 2019 and is the debut novel in the Pearl Wielder Trilogy.

Hannah grew up in Jersey, Channel Islands which was never more than 10 minutes away from a beach. She is addicted to ice cream, has an unhealthy relationship with chocolate and is trying to learn to love running.

Currently, Hannah is living in Canada and is waiting patiently to see a Moose!

Hannah Reed | Instagram | Goodreads 

Hosts: @fierymermaidbooks @tabz_talks_tales @thewritingsofhannah #mermayreadalong (Instagram)

Book Blitz Organized By:

R&R Book Tours

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Bookstagram Tour: Cane Warriors – Alex Wheatle*

Today I’m over on Instagram sharing my thoughts on a new book, so head over there and follow the tour!

Nobody free till everybody free.

Moa is fourteen. The only life he has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking, and the day of the uprising approaches . . .

Irresistible, gripping and unforgettable, Cane Warriors follows the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica, 1760.

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Alex Wheatle is the author of several acclaimed novels, many of them inspired by experiences from his childhood. He was born in Brixton to Jamaican parents, and spent most of his childhood in a Surrey children’s home. Following a short stint in prison following the Brixton uprising of 1981, he wrote poems and lyrics and became known as the Brixtonbard. Alex has been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008.

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My thoughts:

This slim volume contains a powerful and moving story, based on real historical events and people.

Despite a lot of my school friends and classmates having Jamaican parents and grandparents, the history of the island, and of the Caribbean in general, don’t really appear on the curriculum – apart from briefly being mentioned in the British Empire bit sometimes.

This is a shame because it means that children are being denied their own history, and the rest of the class an understanding of the trauma handed down from slavery’s legacy.

It’s been left to talented writers, like Alex Wheatle, to correct this and fill in the gaps in our history. This book should be on all schools’ reading lists, packing a punch that will make you angry and sad, at the cruelty and horror inflicted on millions of people.


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

blog tour, books, reviews

Bookstagram Tour: A Clock of Stars; The Shadow Moth – Francesca Gibbons, illustrated by Chris Riddell*

Today I’m over on Instagram sharing my thoughts on a new book, come and follow the tour!

With all the magic of Narnia and the humour of Mary Poppins, this is a future middle grade fantasy classic – and the beginning of an unforgettable journey…

Imogen should be nice to her little sister Marie. She should be nice to her mum’s boyfriend too. And she certainly shouldn’t follow a strange silver moth through a door in a tree.
But then… who does what they’re told?

Followed by Marie, Imogen finds herself falling into a magical kingdom where the two sisters are swept up in a thrilling race against time – helped by the spoiled prince of the kingdom, a dancing bear, a very grumpy hunter… and even the stars above them.

Goodreads

Amazon

FRANCESCA GIBBONS worked as a copywriter at a marketing agency before leaving to focus on her career as a children’s author. The Shadow Moth is her debut novel. It was inspired by the gardens she visited as a child, and her love of folklore and monsters. It is the first book in the Clock of Stars trilogy.

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My thoughts:

This was a tremendously fun read, with excellent illustrations from the legendary Chris Riddell.

First in a new trilogy, this felt like the work of an accomplished writer, not a debut author, weaving elements of Narnia, folklore and fantasy together in a new and fun way.

While I am several decades older than the intended audience I can see this being a winner with readers of all ages, the three protagonists are engaging and the relationship between sisters Imogen and Marie reminded me of that between my own younger sister and me (little sisters are just so annoying!)

A fantastic new writer has entered the shelves of great fantasy writing and I can’t wait to see what book two brings.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Doors of Eden – Adrian Tchaikovsky*

I’m on the bookstagram tour for Adrian Tchaikovsky’s amazing new book The Doors of Eden today, pop over there and follow the tour!They thought we were safe. They were wrong.Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back. Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time?Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions. Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks be-tween our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.

Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire before heading off to Reading to study psychology and zoology. For reasons unclear even to himself he subsequently ended up in law and has worked as a legal executive in both Reading and Leeds, where he now lives. Mar-ried, he is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor, has trained in stage-fighting, and keeps no exotic or dangerous pets of any kind, possibly excepting his son. He’s the author of the critically acclaimed Shadows of the Apt series, and the Echoes of the Fall trilogy. Children of Time was the winner of the 30th Anniversary Arthur C Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

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My thoughts:

This is an epic book, exploring the many worlds theory and the idea of other Earths.

I loved the wise cracking Dr Kay Amal Khan and the rats (obviously super intelligent rats are going to appeal to me!) and the Cousins.

I felt for Lee, I would be like her, trying to understand what’s going on, despite not fully grasping all the science (maths is my weak point).

Gripping, clever, funny and highly enjoyable.

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

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Blog Tour: The Short Knife – Elen Caldwell*

Today I’m hosting a Bookstagram tour stop for The Short Knife – follow along on #TheShortKnife and #DarkroomTours

It is the year 454AD. The Roman Empire has withdrawn from Britain, throwing it into the chaos of the Dark Ages. Mai has been kept safe by her father and her sister, Haf. But when Saxon warriors arrive at their farm, the family is forced to flee to the hills where British warlords lie in wait. Can Mai survive in a dangerous world where speaking her mother tongue might be deadly, and where even the people she loves the most can’t be trusted?

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Elen Caldecott graduated with an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University and was highly commended in the PFD Prize for Most Promising Writer for Young People. Before becoming a writer, she was an archaeologist, a nurse, a theatre usher and a museum security guard. Elen’s debut novel, How Kirsty Jenkins Stole the Elephant, was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Prize and longlisted for the 2010 Carnegie Medal.

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My thoughts:

This short and clever piece of historical fiction takes you to post Roman Britain and the struggle to stay alive in the face of invading Saxons and increased isolation. Gripping and moving, with a strong sense of time and place.

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