#Bookreview of #ChildrensBook – Ben and The Bug by Natalie Reeves Billing – Essential Reading for Our Times @BillingReeves @RandomTTours

Ben and The Bug
By Natalie Reeves Billing
Rated: 5 stars *****

One of the most important and essential children’s books of our times!
Engaging and sensitive, this book takes children through our times of Covid 19 in a way they will understand and not be scared, but that will assist them to be more aware, through story, facts and a game.
I thank Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the blog tour and for them and Natalie Billing for sending me a copy of the book.

Blurb

When Ben meets Bug at the swing park, they instantly become the best of friends. But when everyone around them gets sick, Ben wonders about the identity of his new playmate.Ben and the Bug is written for families looking for a friendly approach to discussions around Coronavirus.

Ben and the Bug Front Cover

Review

This is an engaging story with one of the most important purposes of our times. Everyone knows about the Corona Virus now, but it can be challenging to remind children or know where to even start with children, when explaining it. In this engaging book that really brings everything down to a child’s level, this book will be an incredibly useful tool for children, child-educators and parents alike, through story and a game.

The game is “Spot the Bug”. On each page there is a bug to find, which will engage children further into the story of Ben and his Auntie Pat.

The book starts in the park. That’s where the bug was first encountered. It’s a fun, yet serious story that shows how a bug can be spread and make people feel unwell. It’s done in a sensible and sensitive way, through fun and bold illustrations and story, that is engaging for children. As well as the story are facts about keeping clean and the bug that all backs up the story and gently informs children. There are more facts at the back of the book as well, that can be brought into any discussion.
The book also shows the bug being sad that it is making people sick and wants to help. It will dissipate any fear factor, even though, of course the bug won’t do that, yet will help children to be able to better understand what is going on, to ease some anxieties, which could also help them to take the situation of Covid 19 more seriously. The book has elements of positivity as it tells of what people are trying to do to make this situation better.

About the Author

Natalie Reeves Billing. Author Pic (1).jpgNatalie Reeves Billing is a Liverpool lass with a dark sense of humour, which often spills onto the page. She loves to write spooky, fantastical stories for young audiences, and dabbles in poetry, contemporary fiction.
Natalie spent most of her early career in the music industry as a performer and professional songwriter. This lead, almost inevitably, to storytelling.

Natalie is an Arvon Foundation friend and is a student of the Golden Egg Academy. She is mentored under the Lloyds Bank SSE program, with her Bubs Literacy project. She is published in several anthologies with her poetry and flash fiction, including the Writing on the Wall, Read Now, Write Now, and is involved in several collaborations with fellow writers across poetry, song, and scriptwriting.
Her new book, My Mummy is a Monster (part of the Monstrous Me collection) will be available in March 2020 and Carry Love in June 2020
Connect with Natalie on Twitter @BillingReeves.

#Bookreview by Lou of #ChildrensBook – My Daddy Is A Monster by Natalie Reeves Billing @BillingReeves @RandomTTours #MonstrousMe #MyDaddyIsAMonster

My Daddy Is A Monster
By Natalie Reeves Billing
Rated: 5 stars *****

Following from My Mummy’ – Is A Monster, this is another dual perspective book that is thought-provoking for young children.
Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours and Natalie for inviting me onto the blog tour and for a copy of the book.

My Daddy is a monster pic

Blurb

The Monstrous Me collection are split perspective books looking at situations from other points of view, helping children develop a sense of balance, roundedness and wellbeing. Readers can literally and figuratively, turn the story on its head, and look at the very same situations from different angles. In this second book, ‘My Daddy is a Monster’ a curious little boy is convinced his dad is a monster. But, is he really? When we look through his dad’s eyes, we see a very different story.

Review

One way the book is My Daddy Is A Monster. Turn the book upside down and you get My Kid Is A Monster.
Monsters can hide and daddy turns into a big purple monster. He does all sorts of things like takes away the kids IPad, makes them awful food, drags them to a football match and much more. Then at bedtime, it all turns more positive for the kids as they realise daddy is not a monster after all as he does some really kind things.

On the flip-side the kids are monsters who leave toys lying out, fidget and fight, take daddy’s phone and moan through the football game and more…
When the kids are all tucked up in bed, the perspective changes and both kids and daddy wonder if each other are really monsters.

It’s a story that will make children think and could assist in seeing each other’s perspectives and try to regulate and think about their behaviour. It could enhance certain aspects of growing-up and being respectful and in growing into a more rounded individual. It’s perfect for opening up thoughtful discussions with young children, as well as enjoying the game and story, in a home and education setting.

It’s also beautifully illustrated with a game of “Hunting the Monstrometer” throughout the book.

About the Author

Natalie Reeves Billing. Author Pic (1)Natalie Reeves Billing is a Liverpool lass with a dark sense of humour, which often spills onto the page. She loves to write spooky, fantastical stories for young audiences, and dabbles in poetry, contemporary fiction.
Natalie spent most of her early career in the music industry as a performer and professional songwriter. This lead, almost inevitably, to storytelling.

Natalie is an Arvon Foundation friend and is a student of the Golden Egg Academy. She is mentored under the Lloyds Bank SSE program, with her Bubs Literacy project. She is published in several anthologies with her poetry and flash fiction, including the Writing on the Wall, Read Now, Write Now, and is involved in several collaborations with fellow writers across poetry, song, and scriptwriting.
Her new book, My Mummy is a Monster (part of the Monstrous Me collection) will be available in March 2020 and Carry Love in June 2020
Connect with Natalie on Twitter @BillingReeves.

My Daddy is a Monster BT Poster (1)

#BookReview by Lou of – On Borrowed Time (The Rutland Crime Series) by Adam Croft – The Second in the Rutland Series @adamcroft #CrimeFiction

On Borrowed Time
The Rutland Crime Series
By Adam Croft
Rated: 5 stars *****

On Borrowed Time is the second book of the Rutland series by Adam Croft that enraptures and brings crime and health together exceedingly well. It is overall, an exceedingly good read with a new crime being committed and a seemlessly continuation of the thread of personal lives of the main characters.
Thanks to Joanne Croft (and Adam Croft) for inviting me to review for them and for sending me an e-copy of the book.
Read further for the blurb and full review.

On Borrowed Time.jpg

Blurb

Each morning, the first train of the day leaves Oakham station and thunders through a tunnel under the village of Manton. But today the driver sees something that changes his life: A dead body hangs in the tunnel’s exit.

DI Caroline Hills knows this isn’t a suicide. It’s murder. And when a second apparent suicide appears in Rutland, Caroline uncovers a shocking link: the victims knew each other.

As Rutland Police fight to catch the killer, a group of friends is left with an even more shocking realisation. One of them is the murderer. And one of them will be the next to die.

Review

Gary Stoddart likes his early shift and how the land and skyscapes are over the East Midlands countryside on any ordinary morning. This wasn’t to be an average morning though as on his journey, there is a man found hanging at a train tunnel that goes under Manton. The mystery then begins to unfold as to who he is and whether it was suicide or something more grizzly, like murder!

Caroline is now in her treatment stage for cancer. There’s a realism about it and is well-written in a matter-of-fact way during the “work chat” with the usually formidable Arnold, who reacts in a natural way in wanting to know things, but trying not to be totally insensitive, but also asking only half questions outright.
The contrast between the working and private life and living in a small area, is nicely done. It’s a new case, but her private/personal life continues naturally from the first book with her illness –  cancer  encroaching on her further and treatment beginning. It’s emotional, but also shows strength of character, which really suits this book.

Caroline and Dexter end up on the new case together. There’s the murder to solve, but also a joviality to the atmosphere between the two colleagues, which makes this very pleasant and brings some humour, but with only a partial number plate and a poor CCTV picture, they certainly have their work cut-out to catch the killer. There is also the press who get all over the story, which becomes pretty heated.

The book then gently twists and turns, with some startling moments, before wrapping up and leaving a question unanswered at the end and more that can explored and may well leave many readers (including myself), wanting more.
The good news is that book 3 is due to be published in 2021.

 

 

#BookReview by Lou of Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten #CrimeFiction @nholten40 @0neMoreChapter_ @HarperCollinsUK @BOTBSPublicity

Dead Perfect
By Noelle Holten
Rated: 5 stars *****

Fast-paced, gritty and chilling to the end – Dead Perfect is a book that packs a punch, with its twists and turns and sinister moves of a stalker.
Thanks One More Chapter/Harper Collins for providing me with the book and for Sarah Hardy for later, inviting me to join the blog tour.

About The Author

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering cases of domestic violence and abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Dead Inside is her debut novel and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

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Blurb

A murdered woman…

When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer.  The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else.  Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.

A determined detective…

Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger.  Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls? 

Can Maggie find the depraved killer?  Or will Kate become his next living doll?

Dead Pefect

Review

A tapping sound, a hammer and a video makes an intriguing prologue.
The Major and Organised Crime Department at Stafford Police Station is where DC Maggie Jamieson is in active service and in comes a sinister case that could be so close to home for her and the team, with a stalker on the loose. The writing is impactful and emotional, as well as compelling and believable as it twists from as early on from the first couple of chapters.

The team solving the case are likeable, especially Nathan and his protective nature.

When it comes to the culprit, there is edge of your seat, atmophere, as the tension builds, as does the case. It also has an air of creepiness about it. This is powerful writing of a stalker’s harrowing and spine-tingling activities.

There is also Lucy Sherwood, who has completed her probation at Markston and is an agency Probation Officer who is opening a refuge for men and women. She also feeds into the case as well, in a practical sense and both her story and the case all come together rather seemlessly and naturally. The author has evidently used some of her own background when writing about Lucy Sherwood, which enhances the character.

There’s the question of whether the stalker and murderer are one of the same person or if both cases are not linked at all. It’s a book that keeps you guessing!
There is also the question of the press being involved that adds to the intrigue.

It’s quite edgy and graphic in nature, but in a realistic sense of being tied-up, which then becomes absorbing, with a need to find out what happens next and who will be caught and who will survive and how people are connected as evidence is pieced together, but there are twists and turns within this as well.

It is captivating as the behaviours of the stalker are discussed and as the colleagues try to work it out and also recall a historic serial killer. There seems to be a lot for readers to get stuck into in this book and all is detailed with what needs to be done to protect the officers as much as possible about each part of the case to catch the criminal, but still, Noelle Holten manages to keep everything pointing in the same direction of attempting to solve the case and keep it all gripping and chilling to the very end.

 

#BookReview by Louise of – A Year of Living Simply – My Journey From Complexity to Contentment By Kate Humble @katehumble @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours #AYearOfLivingSimply

A Year of Living Simply
My Journey From Complexity to Contentment
By Kate Humble
Rated: 5 stars *****

A joyous treat of a certain peace and serenity that is actually achievable for others too.
It isn’t a self-help book, it is a journey through a part of Kate Humble’s life, but there are plenty of ideas that can inspire readers of this book too. Together with warmth, enthusiasm and relatable anecdotes, it’s a wonderful book for our times.
Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours and Octopus Books for inviting me on the tour and for sending me a physical copy of the book.
Discover more about the author, the synopsis and my full review below.

About the Author

Kate Humble is a farmer, writer, activist, entrepreneur and one of the UK’s best-known TV
presenters. She started her television career as a researcher, later presenting
programmes such as ‘Animal Park’, ‘Springwatch & Autumnwatch’, ‘Lambing Live’, ‘Living
with Nomads’, ‘Extreme Wives’ and ‘Back to the Land’. Her last book, Thinking On My
Feet, was shortlisted for The Wainwright Prize and The Edward Stanford Travel Writing
Award.
Find out more about Kate on Twitter @katehumble and @farmerhumble, on
Instagram @kmhumble and at www.katehumble.com and www.humblebynature.com.

A Year of Living Cover

Synopsis

If there is one thing that most of us aspire to, it is, simply, to be happy. And yet attaining
happiness has become, it appears, anything but simple. Having stuff – The Latest, The
Newest, The Best Yet – is all too often peddled as the sure fire route to happiness. So why
then, in our consumer-driven society, is depression, stress and anxiety ever more
common, affecting every strata of society and every age, even, worryingly, the very
young? Why is it, when we have so much, that many of us still feel we are missing
something and the rush of pleasure when we buy something new turns so quickly into a
feeling of emptiness, or purposelessness, or guilt?
So what is the route to real, deep, long lasting happiness? Could it be that our lives have
just become overly crowded, that we’ve lost sight of the things – the simple things – that
give a sense of achievement, a feeling of joy or excitement? That make us happy. Do we
need to take a step back, reprioritise? Do we need to make our lives more simple? Kate
Humble’s fresh and frank exploration of a stripped-back approach to life is uplifting,
engaging and inspiring – and will help us all find balance and happiness every day.

Kate Humble book pic

Review

The minute the book is opened, there is some sort of serenity about it and an optimism. Kate Humble talks briefly about some hard times that she has faced, but it moves onto a positive calmness. It is a joy to read about her walking in the countryside. I, myself am surrounded by countryside and yet, still feel this and a quiet calmness whilst reading this book, in a way I’ve never known quite possible through a book.

It is interesting reading about her aspirations and her home. Everything is so down-to-earth and relatable. Basically she really is as far removed from a diva as you can possibly get, which is lovely.

Kate Humble talks about simple pleasures in life, which is quite grounding in a sense. She also talks of the clutter, which, I’m sure everyone accumulates over time and has to tackle it at some point.
There is also the stark contrast between 2 different types of lives – the busyness of a life that makes a name and money, but brings a cold office environment and how that can change to a lesser paid job, but with less strain.
Pleasures, she shows come in all different forms, such within people you meet, an unexpected letter or tantalising food.
There’s plenty about “earthships” and about shopping too and I must admit, I love her attitude to shopping in a physical shop. It’s also interesting reading about her gain knowledge on gardening.
She writes of kindnesses and community and having that social interactions with others, in all the different forms it takes, but especially the importance of physically seeing someone. This, and so many parts of the book is so heartwarming.

The book is not only inspirational and aspirational, it holds some key things that people, even in these uncertain times, can do now and maybe create an improvement in their own lives or to others. What’s great about this book, is it all seems so naturally written and so much may resonate with people or may give people some thought about their own lives and may inspire people to appreciate the simple things in life more than, what they perhaps currently do, since the book shows a great deal, in different forms, how to show appreciation and also how time can be given to really value things and people.
It also all feels an honest account, when reading the book, which holds a lot of positive, strong values throughout and also just how to ease life a little bit, instead of everything going from 0-100 and missing everything in-between. There seems a lot that society could take from this book and learn from.
It is simply, extraordinarily wonderful and a perfect book of its type!

Year of Living Simply BT Poster  (1).jpg

#BookReview by Lou of #NewBook – Just Like You by Nick Hornby @nickhornby @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks

Just Like You
By Nick Hornby
Rated: 5 stars *****

Excellent observations and a whole mix of life, romance and politics and everything you would expect from Nick Hornby within his fabulously astute writing style. It’s all brought together to make a great story in Just Like You, with relatable characters.

Thank you very much to the publicist at Viking Books for allowing me to review Just Like You.

Blurb

Lucy married just the sort of man you might expect: a university graduate who runs his own business. Unfortunately he turned out to have serious dependency issues.

Joseph is shaking off the memory of his last date, a girl who ticked all the right boxes and also drove him up the wall.

On an average Saturday morning in a butcher’s shop in North London, Lucy and Joseph meet on opposite sides of the counter. She is a teacher and mother of two, with a past she is trying to forget; he is an aspiring DJ with a wide-open future that maybe needs to start becoming more focused. Lucy and Joseph are opposites in almost all ways. Can something life-changing grow from uncommon ground?

Nick Hornby’s brilliantly observed, tender and brutally funny new novel gets to the heart of what it means to fall headlong in love with the best possible person – someone who may not be just like you at all.

Review

What an opening paragraph!!! It’s powerful, enigmatic and thought-provoking, all with one question that is posed in Spring 2016.

Lucy and Emma are characters so many women will be able to relate to as they talk about things you only would with a best friend. Lucy is on the look out for a man, encouraged by Emma. Written down, the list of attributes and desires in someone in the male species of humans, is so funny! True and to the point, but full of wit, when it’s actually in written. The atmosphere is jovial to begin with and gets deeper as the book progresses, whilst the writing shows Nick Hornby has observed people very well and all is written so naturally, in a way that these people could be within your own street.

It’s an interesting observational book that takes readers into the world of blind dating and society quirks of schooling and the private and comprehensive systems, that Nick Hornby gets spot-on. 

There’s also a comprehensive look into society when it comes to attitudes of sport and race through the butcher – Joseph and his dad and other events that have happened politically. At the heart of it all however, is a moving and deep romance that also covers a considerable age-gap, which I feel works well is quite refreshing to read about, since this is a book that covers a lot of what is happening in the world and has very nicely also not shied away from this too.

Moving back to the dating. there’s also the conversation within the book that consist of how people view each other about who is dating who, in terms of skin colour and the way words are phrased. It’s a deep story. Somehow, I expected it to be a romance with deep undertones. It’s such an emotional book with plenty of humour. It’s also about how you think a person is very similar to you would be the one, without a doubt, and yet, it doesn’t always work out like that and sometimes complete opposites really do attract and shows very honestly that all is not always simple when it comes to that tug of the heart-strings. It has a solid realistic story of romance, not one that’s so unachievable and yet desireable all the same like in the movies, but romance that isn’t always so perfect and this is what makes it all rather compelling and so likeable and want to get to know more and more about the characters lives.

It’s written well, as there are clearly emotive points being made, but the plot of the story as a whole is rather like an honest observation of society and bravely doesn’t hold back in its astuteness.