blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Lady in Red – Tessa Buckley*

Pursuing the truth can be a dangerous game…

School’s out for the summer, and Eye Spy Investigations have a new case – looking for Lady in Red, a lost masterpiece by Victorian painter, Gabriel Pascoe.

The clock is ticking for Alex and Donna, because the artist’s house, Acacia Villa, where their friend
Jake lives, is due to be demolished, and vital clues may be destroyed. And Alex has an additional problem: he is terrified of snakes, and Jake has a pet snake called Queenie…

As the twins pursue their enquiries, they come up against the man who wants to demolish Acacia Villa. But Mr Mortimer is the godfather of their baby half-sister, Sophie, and criticising him could open up family rifts, which have only just healed.

Then Queenie goes missing, setting in motion a disastrous train of events that will turn the search for Lady in Red into the twins’ most dangerous case yet.

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Amazon ebook (US)

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Tessa Buckley was an inveterate scribbler as a child, and spent much of her time writing and illustrating stories. After studying Interior Design, she spent fifteen years working for architects and designers.

She took up writing again after her young daughter complained that she couldn’t find enough adventure stories to read. This led, in 2016, to the publication of Eye Spy, the first in a series for 9-12 year olds about two teen detectives. There are now two more books in the series: Haunted,
which was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2017, and Lady in Red.

She lives by the sea in
Essex and recently completed an Open University arts degree.

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My thoughts:

This was a great, fun read, with lots of action and adventure, set in a British seaside town.

Amateur sleuths Alex and Donna make some new friends and investigate the case of a missing painting, getting involved with a rather unpleasant property developer in the process.

With lots of breaks for snacks, the detectives close in on the lost artwork and uncover corruption and bribery in the process.

A genuinely enjoyable and light hearted read, perfect for a quiet afternoon indoors.


*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

Book Blitz: Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse – Sherrill Joseph


EucalyptusStreetBRB

Congrats to author Sherrill Joseph on the release of the next exciting book in her Botanic Hill Detectives mystery series, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse!

I have an excerpt for you to read and a chance to win a signed, personalized paperback copy of the book, and some matching book swag!

Ebook_EucalyptusStreet_GreenCurse_02(1)Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse 

Publication Date: October 20, 2020 (Today

Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade

(For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

In 1945, Isabela de Cordoba’s great-grandfather, the famous silent movie actor Lorenzo de Cordoba, mysteriously hid a legendary, multimillion-dollar emerald somewhere on the family’s sprawling Eucalyptus Street estate. Seventy years later, the gem remains concealed. Nicknamed the “Green Curse,” the emerald is blamed for the Southern California familia’s numerous, untimely deaths.

On her twenty-first birthday, Isabela receives a secret letter with a cryptic poem. These documents from the long-deceased Lorenzo invite her to hunt for the gemstone. But first, she must decipher the poem’s eight stanzas for clues.

To assist, Isabela hires her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the four Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, and their best friends, Moki Kalani and Rani Kumar. Eerie footsteps inside the mansion, unexplained occurrences in the adjacent cemetery, and the mysterious tenant in the backyard casita challenge them. But they ingeniously make progress on the poem’s meaning with startling discoveries. Sliding wall panels, a secret room, and hidden passages reveal much. The detectives aren’t the only ones looking for the emerald. The perilous race for the de Cordoba treasure is on!

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Excerpt

Lexi is awakened at two a.m. by an unlatched bedroom window banging in the wind. She has just closed it and is about to return to bed when:

Lexi . . . became transfixed by something she saw out the troublesome window. At the far western edge of the estate grounds, there appeared a light that seemed to be bobbing, then pulsing on and off. Lexi squinted her eyes to aid her focus.

“What’s going on?” Rani asked a moment later. She propped herself up on her elbows.

 “There’s a twinkling light out there. Come see for yourself.” Lexi beckoned to Rani with both hands. “Hurry up, before it’s gone.”

Rani scrambled out of bed and joined Lexi in gazing in the direction her friend was pointing. Both girls watched as the light moved first one direction, then the other.

Rani craned her neck for a better view. “Creepy. What part of the garden is that?”

“I hope I’m wrong, but I think that’s the churchyard at St. Barnabas Cathedral.”

The girls stared at each other wide-eyed as Lexi squeezed Rani’s forearm.

Available in paperback and for Kindle!

About the Author

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Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.

She has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries with children and adult characters of various abilities, races, cultures, and interests. Sherrill strongly believes that children need to find not only themselves in books but others from different races and social situations if all are to become tolerant, anti-racist world citizens.

In addition, the author created her detectives—patterned after her own fifth-grade students and twelve-year-old twin cousins—to be mature, smart, polite role models that will appeal to parents, teachers, but especially to kids who seek to realize their greatest potential with courage and self-respect.

Sherrill is a lexical-gustatory synesthete and native San Diegan where she lives in a 1928 Spanish-style house in a historic neighborhood with her poodle-bichon mix, Jimmy Lambchop. Other loves include her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. She can’t leave out dark chocolate, popcorn, old movies, purple, and daisies. Having never lived in a two-story house, she is naturally fascinated by staircases. Sherrill is a member of SCBWI and the Authors Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.

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Giveaway:
3 lucky winners will receive a signed, personalized paperback copy of the book, and some matching book swag (US only this time)! Giveaway will be open until October 23rd!

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blog tour, books, reviews

Bookstagram Tour: Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble – edited by Paul Cookson, illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon*

Today i’m over on Instagram sharing my thoughts on a new book, so head on over to follow the tour.Can you hear the distant dragon’s rumble of thunder? And smell the sweet swampy aroma of the ogre? Can you taste the tangy tarantula tarts? And see the girl who’s really a wizard? From magic carpets and wands to unicorns, potions, creams and lotions, Paul Cookson’s brewing a spell of fantastically magic poems.
On this tattered magic carpet You can choose your destination For nothing’s quite as magical as your imagination. Beautifully illustrated, this enchanting anthology brings together work from a range of classic, established and rising poets including Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard, Valerie Bloom, Matt Goodfellow, Joshua Seigal and A.F. Harrold.Whether you’re in the mood for a haunting or a spell gone wrong, this collection of mesmerising poems will have you bewitched from beginning to end!

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Paul Cookson lives in Retford with his wife, two children, a dog and several ukuleles. He has worked as a poet since 1989 and has visited thousands of schools and performed to hundreds of thousands of pupils and staff. Paul is the official Poet in Residence for the National Football Museum, the Poetry Ambassador for United Learning and Poet Laureate for Slade. He worked as the Poet for Everton Collection at Liverpool Library, was Poet in Residence for Literacy Times Plus and, as part of the National Year of Reading, was nominated a National Reading Hero and received his award at 10 Downing Street.

Paul has 60 titles to his name and poems that appear in over 200 other books. His work has taken him all over the world from Argentina, Uganda and Malaysia to France, Germany and Switzerland.
Paul is the official Poet in Residence for the National Football Museum, the Poetry Ambassador for United Learning and Poet Laureate for Slade. He worked as the Poet for Everton Collection at Liverpool Library, was Poet in Residence for Literacy Times Plus and, as part of the National Year of Reading, was nominated a National Reading Hero and received his award at 10 Downing Street.Paul has 60 titles to his name and poems that appear in over 200 other books. His work has taken him all over the world from Argentina, Uganda and Malaysia to France, Germany and Switzerland.My thoughts:This is a really fun collection of poems old and new, from Shakespeare’s weird sisters in Macbeth, to spells to make your teacher turn purple, in praise of unicorns and make your sister combust!Poetry is tremendous fun and should ideally be read aloud so you can hear the rhythm and flow of the words.There’s also poems for every reader, and while this collection is aimed at younger readers, with its fun illustrations, it can certainly be enjoyed by anyone.*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.

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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 Beast & the Bethany – Jack Meggitt-Phillips, illustrated by Isabelle Follath*


Beauty comes at a price. And no one knows that better than Ebenezer Tweezer, who has stayed beautiful for 511 years. How, you may wonder? Ebenezer simply has to feed the beast in the attic of his mansion. In return for meals of performing monkeys, statues of Winston Churchill, and the occasional cactus, Ebenezer gets potions that keep him young and beautiful, as well as other presents.

But the beast grows ever greedier with each meal, and one day he announces that he’d like to eat a nice, juicy child next. Ebenezer has never done anything quite this terrible to hold onto his wonderful life. Still, he finds the absolutely snottiest, naughtiest, and most frankly unpleasant child he can and prepares to feed her to the beast.

The child, Bethany, may just be more than Ebenezer bargained for. She’s certainly a really rather rude houseguest, but Ebenezer still finds himself wishing she didn’t have to be gobbled up after all. Could it be Bethany is less meal-worthy and more…friend-worthy?

My thoughts:

This was lots of fun, and very silly.

What amused me before I read it was the title – my sister-in-law is called Bethany and I told my husband that made him the Beast!

However the book was even better than it’s title suggests.

The Beast lives on the top floor of Ebenezer Tweezer’s enormous house, where it demands more and more unusual delicacies to eat. In exchange he vomits up whatever Ebenezer, a sprightly 511 years old, desires.

Until the Beast wants to eat a plump, juicy child. I think it might be related to the witch in Hansel & Gretel.

Enter Bethany – a short hurricane of bad manners, petty theft, and obstinence. She’s also a lot smarter than anyone gives her credit for.

With Bethany’s help Ebenezer starts to plot against the Beast and put a stop to its greed.

I laughed so much at times I snorted like a pig!

This book may be aimed at child readers but even an old crone like me can enjoy it.


*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: Isadorn the Unicorn and the Sloppy Dragon – Angela Castillo & Indira Zuleta*

What’s a frustrated unicorn to do? Dunfer the Dragon has just moved into the cave next door, and Isadorn’s perfect world has been turned upside down.
Not only does he make growling noises all day and night, he’s just burned down her favorite rosebush! Can Isadora figure out how to talk to Dunfer about her problems? Or will her magical unicorn world be ruined forever?

My thoughts:

This is sweet and adorable, brightly coloured illustrations complement the storyline and engage the reader.

As well as being a lovely story about making friends and resolving conflict, it features some discussion points to prompt a conversation with your youngster after reading.

I passed this to a friend with a small child to get their thoughts. My friend’s daughter (aged 3) said it was “pretty, and good because the unicorn and the dragon made friends” – which is excellent feedback.

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

books, reviews

Book Review: North – Edith Pattou

This is a beguiling epic of magic, love, loss and betrayal based on the traditional fairytale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”. The lyrical writing and bold sweep of the story as Rose travels north will cast a spell over every reader. “A rich tapestry that will resonate with readers…The stuff of epic tale-telling, replete with high drama and compelling characterisations.” – Booklist. Rose was born into the world facing north, and as a north child, superstition says that she will be a wanderer, travelling far from home. This prophecy is fulfilled when she is taken on the back of a white bear to a mysterious empty castle, where a silent stranger appears to her night after night. When her curiosity overcomes her, she loses her heart, and must journey to a land east of the sun and west of the moon to reclaim it.

My thoughts:

I won this book in a Twitter giveaway from Usborne and will be published in November.

This is a beautiful retelling of a fairy tale hailing from Scandinavia, with a clever and resourceful young heroine who goes on a magical quest to find her white bear and bring him home. A love story, not just between the two protagonists, but also between Rose and her family.

While this book is aimed at younger readers (what publishing calls Middle Grade) this gentle, moving tale would resonate with readers of all ages.