Review of 3 Helping Hand Stories by Sarah, Duchess of York @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #HelpingHandStories #ChildrensBooks #Kidslit #Parents #Families #Schools #Libraries #SchoolLibraries #BlogTour #Review

3 Helping Hand Stories by Sarah, Duchess of York
Rated: 5 stars each *****

Sarah Duchess FINAL Helping Hands BT Poster

Sarah Duchess photo

I am very excited and honoured to be part of this blog and for the wonderful opportunity to present to you all, my  reviews of 3 children’s books by Sarah, Duchess of York, that she has written for Helping Hand for you all to read. Families and schools will seriously find them so beneficial. They have excellent illustrations with great stories and handy hints at the end. The way the stories and helpful hints are presented is excellent. There is so much to be gained out of reading them and they are an excellent tool for any household and classroom. There is so much scope as to how people can use the books.

I thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this amazing blog tour and for arranging books to be sent.

Let me show you the blurb of each book and then my review. Read further still, for an insightful and very interesting  interview about why Sarah, Duchess of York wrote the books, and then a lovely piece all about Sarah, Duchess of York herself.
I have also included the website link for the Helping Hand Stories page for you to check out for more information.

 

Blurb

Daisy Learns About Strangers

Sarah Fergusson Daisy learns about strangers front cover

Daisy gets bored in a supermarket and wanders off from her Mummy. When she realises she is amongst strangers, she feels very alone and frightened but luckily finds a security guard who soon reunites her with her Mummy. Learning about strangers is a difficult but vital lesson for young children. Daisy’s experience in the supermarket teaches her a valuable lesson.

James and the Bullies

Sarah Fergusson James and the bullies front cover

James is small for his age and some of the older boys at school have taken to pushing him around. At first, James tells no-one as he thinks it is his fault but finally he decides to tell his Mum and together they set about solving the problem. Bullying is one of the most difficult issues children and their parents have to face. James and his Mum show how it can be tackled and overcome.

Holly’s First Day at School

Sarah Ferusson Holly's first day at school front cover

A small child’s first day at school is a big step forward for both child and parents. For Holly, her worries about not being with her Mummy are soon forgotten as she meets new friends and starts to learn new things.

 

Review

First of all, these books are not just relevant, they are needed for children and families. They serve incredibly useful purposes. These are books that are really engaging to children, in the full content of the stories, the big illustrations, and  the meaning behind the books as powerful knowledge and understanding is gained.                                               They are excellent for conversation and discussion pieces. These are books that are designed to be read by adults with children.
Each book is realistic about the situations they portray and also has a positive resolution at the end.
Each story is something parents/caregivers and children themselves will be able to relate to. The layout of each is easy to follow as they flow very well from scene to scene.
The pictures and the words all go together very well too, bringing the stories to life and enhancing what has been written.
Check out the pages after the end of each story. There are excellent hints given there for parents/caregivers that are well-written and easy to follow. They really are practical and excellent ideas. The hints are written by a child psychologist and based on sound knowledge. Who knows if Sarah, Duchess of York will write any more of this series of books, but she certainly could as there are lots of topics she could write about and they are very good indeed.

 

Daisy Learns About Strangers

It is a worry for parents and caregivers that children could go off with strangers. This book has a brilliant short story with a couple of examples about a child getting lost and also later, about the same child seeing someone she doesn’t recognise. The book shows how such a thing could come about, what to do and how it can all be happily resolved. 

The story starts off in a supermarket and Daisy is being distracted by the tv whilst her mother is talking. Daisy then moves away without her mum knowing. Daisy feels lost and cannot locate her mum. She then goes to an appropriate adult to ask for help. The story resolves nicely. The story then moves onwards with her parents telling Daisy about strangers and them making up a rhyme so she remembers the rules she is taught and gives a scenario of someone who is a stranger. It is resolved nice and neatly.

James and the Bullies

Bullies – so many children are still being bullied and this story sets out how the bullied child can feel and also what action can be taken. The book is so positive that it will show those being bullied can do something about it and can take positive action. It shows that adults will listen, who to tell and what to perhaps say. This is an empowering book for children. It is also fabulous, that it demonstrates the child and adults working together to resolve the bullying and the positivity at the end.

Actually, come to think of it, this is also an excellent story if you are worried your child may be the bully, to demonstrate how the child being bullied can feel, to help set them back on a better, more positive path).

The story begins with James being worried and upset. It then shows the reason why and how 2 boys are bullying him. It goes on with James trying to hide the real reason for his minor injuries and also the internal symptom of his sore tummy and his lowering self-esteem. He does however have one good friend, who really he wants to ignore, but finds he can’t. The story continues and changes to being more positive as James then tells his mum about what has been going on and about how she and his teacher can help. It all gets resolved in the end and James starts to feel more like himself as he gains his confidence and self-esteem back.

Holly’s First Day at School

First days of anything can be challenging and hard. The first day at school is such a big milestone and one which, even the most prepared of children can find daunting as it becomes a reality. This book will help give a positive image, but also show that it is okay to feel worried and cry over it. It shows too that the first day at school can also be fun. It is a great book to use in assisting your child to prepare for this milestone in life.

The story begins with the positive, upbeat feelings of having completed the first day at school and then looks back to when the day began and how Holly had initially felt anxious. She meets up with Amy, her friend, Charlotte’s older sister and she tells them of the friends they’d make and yet she is still worried and a bit upset at the school gates. Then, follow Holly into assembly and the classroom and all the different activities she gets involved in. The story resolves nicely as after the first day, all is well again with Holly and she is now happier with going to school and ready to face another day.

Interview

This is a very insightful and very interesting  interview the Duchess of York gave about her Helping Hands stories (not conducted my me I might add).

Why did you write the Helping Hand stories?

The simple answer is that I was originally asked to by a UK pharmacy chain who felt there was a need for them. But as I started to work on the stories, listened to Dr Richard
Woolfson, the child psychologist who worked closely with us, and talked to mums with
young children, it became clearer and clearer to me that this was something I could really contribute to. If we could tackle the issues that all children face growing up by using that oldest but most effective technique, storytelling, to create something that invited young children to start understanding those issues whilst being of practical help to parents, we would be doing something really worthwhile.

Why have you decided to republish them now?

Two reasons: firstly the importance of encouraging people of all ages to talk about difficult experiences as a healthy thing to do has become increasingly prominent and accepted. The Helping Hand stories are designed to help both parents and young children to do exactly that. My hope is that parents (and grandparents) will read the books with their children and talk about the stories after they have read them. Secondly, they were extremely popular with customers of the pharmacy chain but there is a much bigger audience out there who will not have come across the books yet – and will hopefully find them just as useful.

We have brought them up to date in a bigger format with fantastic new illustrations – I can say that as I didn’t do them! They are the work of a very talented illustrator, Amit Tayal – thank you Amit for bringing the stories vividly to life. We’ve also produced ebook versions of the stories so they can be read on a tablet or laptop.

How did you choose the issues to write about?

I wanted to tackle issues that are important and universal. Take bullying for example.
According to UK research, at least two in five young people have experienced bullying in
some form in the previous year. And bullying is the most common reason for children aged 11 and under to contact Childline. ‘James and the Bullies’ is a simple story of bullying at school that illustrates how to face up to the problem and to go about resolving it. As with so many problems, being brave enough to talk about it is more than half the answer. Also, each story includes ten ‘Helpful Hints’ contributed by Richard Woolfson to give parents practical ways to help deal with the issue.

Do the stories reflect your personal experience?

As a mother, I was of course concerned about the issues that the stories cover and I would have loved to have had them to hand when I was a young Mum. But I wanted to write them, based on a broader understanding of the issues and the ways to tackle them. So the situations and solutions I describe come from both Richard Woolfson’s many years’ experience working with children and their parents and the many conversations I have had with other parents at the school gate and subsequently.

Do you have plans to write more Helping Hand stories?

I would love to. There’s no shortage of topics. For example, the growth of cyberbullying is
something I know the parents of young children I talk to are desperately worried about. It’s a problem that just did not exist when they were children so it is more difficult to grasp. I think a story that shed some light on the issue and offered advice on how to tackle it would be very well received.

What do you hope the Helping Hand stories will achieve?

I had a conversation the other day with a mum who had recently read the stories to her
young daughter. She told me that, initially, she had been a little wary of raising such
difficult topics with her innocent young child. But, equally, she knew that her little girl
would have to face such issues, probably sooner rather than later. As they describe a
fictional situation, the stories had been a relaxed way to introduce the topics and her
daughter had engaged with them. She identified with the children portrayed in them and
wanted to read them again a few days later, asking a number of questions. Mum and Dad
had felt very relieved that the topics were now ‘on the table’ and indeed the books were
now literally on the bedside table to be referred to, as and when needed. If that experience could be repeated a thousand times – or even tens of thousands of times – I would be thrilled.

Link for Helping Hands: http://www.helpinghandstories.com

About Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

Sarah Duchess photo

The Duchess of York is a global humanitarian, businesswoman, best selling children’s book author, producer and wellness advocate. The Duchess is widely admired for her “comeback spirit” and for overcoming formidable obstacles to succeed as a good mother who has worked hard to support her children, a survivor, businesswoman and humanitarian.
In 1993 she founded Children in Crisis (www.childrenincrisis.org.uk) and the charity has educated over 1.4 million children, trained over 18,000 teachers, built 57 schools and supports hundreds of schools on a yearly basis. Recently CIC merged with Street Child and The Duchess is Founder Patron, remaining active in its mission to provide education to forgotten children around the world. She has recently returned from visiting Street Child’s projects in Nepal and Sierra Leone, supporting the most marginalised into education and out of bonded labour.

The Duchess has published over 52 books including two autobiographies and titles dealing with health, empowerment, history, art, as well as children’s stories. Her children’s books include the series of ‘Budgie the Little Helicopter’, adapted into a highly successful animated series on US primetime Fox and her children’s book ‘Tea for Ruby’, published by Simon and Schuster had it’s debut at the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

The subject of countless media interviews herself, The Duchess has also found success as a reporter and presenter. In America, she has been a special correspondent for NBC’s Today show and has presented specials and documentaries on ABC, FOX, and CNN. In Britain, she has presented and coproduced specials for ITV, BBC, and Sky TV. She has served as guest editor on BBC Radio 4 Today programme and has regularly contributed to BBC Radio 2’s primetime lifestyle show “Steve Wright”.
She conceived the film, and produced alongside Martin Scorsese, ‘The Young Victoria’, a period romance based on the early life of Queen Victoria starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend and scripted by Julian Fellowes. She has written two books on the subject, ‘Travels with Queen Victoria’ and ‘Victoria and Albert: Family Life at Osborne House’. The Young Victoria was released in the US, UK, Australia, France amongst other territories and it was the closing film at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2009.

She devotes much of her time to promoting wellness and children’s causes. The ‘Helping Hand’ series of books is designed to introduce children to the issues they all confront as they grow old, through storytelling and to support their parents with advice provided by a leading child psychologist. For 10 years she was the highly successful US spokesperson for Weight Watchers International where she distinguished herself as a wellness advocate and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. She has recently been asked to lead a campaign highlighting women and heart disease by The British Heart Foundation.

She is a passionate supporter of a number of charities including The Teenage Cancer Trust and Teen Cancer America, Julia’s House, The British Heart Foundation and The Children’s Air Ambulance. She also champions Key to Freedom, a business structure initiative set up to support the Women’s Interlink Foundation (WIF) by giving vulnerable young women a platform to sell their products. WIF works across West Bengal, India, helping these women develop skills to earn an income. She has just returned from a visit to The Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation Hospital (BASR) where, as Patron, she is spearheading a campaign to establish a cardiology department to include a heart attack centre and rehabilitation.

 

Review of The Cockatoo From Timbuktu by William A.E. Ford – Travel around the world with the Cockatoo @williamaeford #RamileMImac #Kidslit #NewBook #Education #Geography #Learning #Review #Schools #Libraries #readingforpleasure

The Cockatoo From Timbuktu
By William A.E. Ford
Illustrated by Ramile M. Imac
Rated: 5 stars *****

About the Author

William has always had a passion for books, writing and story-telling.  William’s favourite way to end a cosy evening is to spend time dreaming up and reading bed-time stories to his five wonderful children.

‘Timothy Mean and the Time Machine’ and ‘The Cockatoo from Timbuktu’ were inspired by the spark of his children’s colourful imaginations as they tirelessly created unique, laughter filled days from even the most mundane, everyday objects and situations!

Born in England, William  currently lives in Oslo, Norway with his wife and five children.

‘Timothy Mean and the Time Machine’ won the Readers Favorite Children’s Sci-Fi / Fantasy 2019 Award. ‘The Cockatoo from Timbuktu’ is William’s second published picture book.  Timothy Mean 2 is currently in production. 

William welcomes enquiries from agents and publishers.

I am pleased to be returning to the work of William AE Ford to review his latest book – The Cockatoo From Timbucktu. A book where children have fun with the story, as well as taking in the educational elements in an inspired and fun way. This book would be great for schools, libraries or in the home. Read further to find out why…

The Cockatoo From Timbucktu

If you are a fan of Julia Donaldson, you will love William A.E. Ford’s books. They are of that calibre. They are packed full of a rhyming story, big and bright illustrations that match the stories and with something that children will take away from them – fun and just enough knowledge along the way. These book are fun to interact with at home, in a library or in school or to curl up with at bedtime. However you like to read books, this is an exciting author I highly recommend…. Read further to find out why….

Blurb

Join Kian the cockatoo on his adventures around the world!

Can a childhood song about a shining star help him find his way home?

From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China to New York City wonders of the world are explored delightfully in this epic journey!

Review

William has done it again! After sending children on an interactive, rhyming time travelling adventure with Timothy Mean and his Time Machine, he now sends them on a world adventure with a lost cockatoo who just wants to go home to be reunited with his mum and dad.

William A.E. Ford has shown again that his books are a valuable tool for the home, libraries and schools.

I have read it to quite a number of children and they love it. They love the illustrations, the story and the repetitive nature of the beginning of each page because they quickly grasp that they can become so involved in the story of saying those lines out loud (in unison if it is a class). The children love that they can trace with their finger across the map to follow the trail, Kian the cockatoo went. They also really like getting to know a bit about the world. I also had someone holding an atlas to show each country whilst going through the story, there are many things classes can do with this terrific story.

Follow the Cockatoo and also see if you can find the ladybird that follows on. Children have fun doing that. The Cockatoo starts off at a zoo with thoughts of home and travels through countries such as Antarctica, Australia, China, India, UK, USA, Africa, all in perfect and wonderful rhyme within this beautifully illustrated book. Each page is fully illustrated and perfect for children at home and within libraries and school classes.

This book has all the emotions and lots of fun. There is the sadness and loneliness of being lost and then lots of fun in-between. The book is also heartwarming and lovely. New books and new authors are exciting and this is one author in-particular that children from 3 to 6 years olds will enjoy.

This book is great for reading for pleasure and also for doing a bit of basic Geography with children and for talking about emotions and also for literacy – talking about the noticeable poetic rhyming.

The book also has a beautifully illustrated map before the story begins, showing where the cockatoo goes to and the animals it meets in each country. Children have fun following the dotted line around the world map. Each page thereafter takes each country individually and shows the main landmarks and animals around the world as part of the story.

There is a page of Fun Facts at the back of the book about cockatoos and Timbuktu, all very well laid out and easy to read and understand, to feed those curious minds of children.

I would like to thank William A.E. Ford for surprising me with his latest book. I had previously reviewed Timothy Mean and his Time Machine and he donated to the library I currently lead. He surprised me with the Cockatoo from Timbuktu for the library.

* My review is non-biased. I am once again impressed. It’s a very good book.

 

Review of The Hidden Spaceship By Serena Lane Ferrari – Go on an Exciting Outer Space Mission to Help Planet Earth #SerenaLaneFerrari #Kidslit #environment #space #schools #readingforpleasure #libraries #readingrocks #savetheplanet #savetheplanetbooks #Review

The Hidden Spaceship
By Serena Lane Ferrari
Rated: 4.5 stars

About the Author

Serena Lane Ferrari is a mother and an English teacher. She writes books for young children that have the future of our planet at their heart. She passionately believes that children are our last chance to help improve our ecosystems, find solutions to major climate problems and to save the planet. She also believes passionately in the importance of reading to children from an early age, so do hope that my books help engage children (and parents!) and inspire them to believe in a better future.

Click for Website Link: Website

 

The Hidden Spaceship cover

Blurb

When Amelia and Noah stumble across a spaceship, an out-of-this-world adventure begins. The friends have a very special mission – to help the Earth’s eco-system. They must go on a daunting journey on another planet, find a treasure chest, and complete their quest. What secret does the treasure chest hold?

Review

The book starts with a fun song, just to get readers ready for their adventure.  Amelia and Noah stumble across a spaceship and enter it, thus beginning their adventure to a distant planet.
The illustrations are big, bright and bold throughout, to capture children’s attention. They meet an alien on the planet that shows what humans are doing to the planet. It shows just enough for young children to understand, but not to terrify them.
The story with the intrepid explorers continues as they begin a quest the Ualalumpa (alien) has sent them on…. The treasure is something more magical and wonderful than what readers would expect and it certainly isn’t your usual gold or jewels.

This book would inspire children in the ways that they could help save Earth in a way that they understand and in a really fun way. The mix of fact and story all weaved together is great, alongside the pictures filling the page.

This would be a great asset to a personal book collection or library or school as it is pleasurable to read and has an educational element as in it has meaning and some thought-provoking pages that could be good for stimulating conversation.

At the back there is an important note from the author about how she is passionate about both our eco-system and in young children reading for pleasure. There is also a sneek-peek about her next book.

I recommend this book because it promotes reading for pleasure and in a really fun way, promotes the environment without being preachy and instead being more of an adventure. It is a book that children can have a lovely time with as they get a good story and gain a bit of knowledge at the same time.
I can say that already children and their parents/caregivers are already enjoying it.

*Thank you for donating a copy to the community library in Scotland that I currently lead and for leaving a lovely message inside.

*This review is unbiased.

She Wolf by Dan Smith @DanSmithAuthor #SheWolf #Education #Libraries #NewBook #Review #Kidslit #Schools #Adventure #Historical #Vikings #Norse

Review

She Wolf
by Dan Smith
Rated: 5 stars *****

Today I have decided to publish my review of the excellent children’s book – She Wolf by award winning author Dan Smith. This is a book I highly recommend to children and already Dan Smith has quite a following from primary schools. Young teenagers would also like this book too. I hope after reading the review, you will also check Dan Smith out. Below, after my review of She Wolf, you will be able to find a few links to pages within his website. Whether he is a new to you author or one you read a lot of, this book and his website is worth checking out.
For schools, there are also resources to accompany this book (see links below for his website and Twitter).
Dan Smith’s books can be found in many physical and online shops and within libraries.

About the Author

Dan Smith is an  award winning author of adventure stories for younger readers, and thrillers for adults. He loves to hear from readers.

Growing up, he led three lives. In one, he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the paddy fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of my own, making up stories . . . Which is where some people say I still live most of the time.

He has lived in many places that inspire his writing – including Sierra Leone, Sumatra, northern and central Brazil. I’ve even lived in Spain and in the Soviet Union, but now has settled in Newcastle with his wife and two  children to keep him on his toes.

Past jobs have varied from dishwasher extraordinaire (or, perhaps, just ordinaire), social security fraud (detecting it, not committing it), to working on giant-sized Christmas decorations, and a fistful of mundane office jobs, but throughout all of those things, he always loved stories, he always loved a good adventure, and he always kept writing.

She Wolf

Blurb

Northumbria 866.
Washed ashore on a frozen English beach, Ylva’s survived. She will not cry. She’s meant to be strong. She’s a Viking.

But when her mother dies at the hand of a three-fingered man, and the wolves of the forest circle closer, Ylva will need more than the memory of her mother’s stories to stay alive. Can she shape her own legend? Will it end in revenge – or is there another way?

Review

Primary schools have rated Dan Smith highly and I can see why. His writing is terrific! It has character and he really understands that writing in historical times can also be relevant and relatable for readers in present times within the themes.
First look at the maps of the journey Ylva will take. There is also much to be learned as below one of the maps is the AD 866 place-name and the modern place name. At the back is an excellent glossary and “Did You Know” section so children can learn a bit more. This is a fictional book that is also excellent for “Reading for Pleasure” or for any reading challenges. I have seen that where this book is in primary schools, children are loving and devouring it. This is a book that all children can get into. With the chapters being short and snappy, this book lends itself so well to school teachers or parents reading it out loud and for individuals to read. This book is also rated by The BookTrust. The book can be bought or borrowed from libraries.

From page 1, there is atmosphere, placing readers right in the centre of Ylva’s life. There’s action and adventure and legends of Thor, Odin and Loki within these wonderfully written pages. This book is for all genders. It deals with bereavement and courage.

Ylva is a young, fierce, independent, strong and brave heroine . Readers will first meet her by a trader’s hut as a lost, orphaned Dane in cold England, with only her dog, Geri now left for company. Her mother has died and her initial reaction is one of revenge. There’s depth to this book, but not too complex for older primary school aged children. The book goes along at an excellent pace, nothing lingers too long.

The characters are intriguing, especially the three-fingered man and there is plenty of snow and wolves within this book. Don’t be fooled by the title “She Wolf”, this is a book to delight both boys and girls alike.

The landscape is harsh and Ylva has to decide who to trust. The question of trust is important and it is a quest with many dangers. There are pearls and people who she has to decide whether to trust or not. She does however decide to trust Cathryn enough, who is a Saxon who offers her shelter.

There are beautiful tender moments too.
This is an emotional book and one, although set in 866AD is relatable, even though the times and some experiences are different.

The end is an unexpected one that will leave readers feeling satisfied.

History and fiction are expertly woven together to create an immersive story with rich descriptions. There’s a real sense of what the atmosphere was like. This feels like it could be made into a film. The story is dark, but an adventure like none-other that has the scope of interesting so many readers looking for a new, original adventure.
Readers who enjoy adventures that conquer adversity with strong characters, vikings, Norse Gods and mythology and who want to explore history would love this brilliant fictional book. Remember to read the glossary to and the “Did You Know” section to expand you understanding of some of the words of the story and your knowledge of the viking period.

Links to Dan Smith’s Website for you to explore:

Twitter:   @DanSmithAuthor

Great books from 2019 – Happy New Year and Happy Reading #HappyNewYear #2019books #2019wrapup #MyYearinBooks #BestBooks #MustReads #amreading #readingforpleasure #books #CrimeFiction #Thriller #FamilySaga #Saga #Historical #Kidslit #YA #NonFiction #Fiction #Fantasy #UpLit #Bookish

Great Books to check out and read from 2019

I have read and reviewed so many books this year. I have decided to follow the trend of compiling an end of year list of what I would consider “The Must Read or Top 2019 Books. The list will be in no particular order, but will be broken down into genre. Here you will find great Children’s Books and Young Adult books, followed by all types of crime fiction; followed by general fictional books; followed by family saga/historical fiction; followed by fantasy; followed by non-fiction/autobiographical/biographical.
Firstly, I would like to say a few thanks:

I am incredibly grateful to everyone however who contacts me through my blog or Twitter, interacts with me, sends me books to review, either personally or through publishing houses. I am grateful for the generosity of authors, publishers and bloggers for sharing my reviews on their social media platforms and websites. I thank publishers and authors for considering me and for giving me the responsibility of reviewing their books. Reviewing someone’s work is something I don’t do lightly. A lot of thought goes into it all and also I am so conscious that what is in my hands at that moment is someone’s hard work and, whether I’ve met the person/people face to face or not, I am always aware of them being human too. I must say that I do love writing my blog and I appreciate every opportunity I have ever had that has come with writing it.

I also thank those authors, publishers and bloggers who have been kind and generous in other ways too, such as help with the community library I currently lead. You know who you are and I am eternally grateful.

Now onto the lists. I hope people find something new, some inspiration or are perhaps reminded that they want to check out a book. The books on the list are all on my blog, so feel free to check out the full reviews. The books can be borrowed from libraries, bought from bookshops and are also e-books on the various e-book platforms.

Children and Young Adult Fiction


Princess Poppy – Please, Please Save the Bees by Janey Louise Jones
Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford
The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey
Leo and the Lightning Dragons by Gill White
Toletis by Rafa Ruiz
The Age of Akra by Vacen Taylor

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
10 Things to do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keefe (YA)

Crime Fiction , including Thrillers and Political Thrillers

Absolution by Adam Croft
Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver
In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone

Nothing to Hide by James Oswald
The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws
Death at the Plague Museum by Lesley Kelly
The Killing Rock by Robert Daws
In Plain Sight by Adam Croft
Sealed with a Death by James Sylvester
Hands Up by Stephen Clark
The Silence of Severance by Wes Markin
A Friend In Deed by G.D. Harper

General Fiction

 


The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris
Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami
A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft
Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
Let it Snow by Sue Moorcroft
Summer at the Kindness Café by Victoria Walters
Secret Things and Highland Flings by Tracy Corbett
Sunshine and Secrets – The Paradise Cookery School by Daisy James

Family Saga/Historical Fiction

Bobby Girls coverHeady HeightsTime will tell book

Bobby Girls by Johanna Bell
Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F.Frost

Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan

Fantasy

The Blue Salt Road Joanne HarrisThe Old Dragon's Head Coveer

The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris (YA and Adult)
The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland

The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet
Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew
First in the Fight 20 Women Who Made Manchester by Helen Antrobus
The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

I have some books to review already and working on them for 2020.
I’ve plenty of exciting things to be blogging about in 2020 and hopefully many more exciting opportunities will crop up in the future. I will also be publishing brief resumes of great theatre shows from 2018 and 2019, most of which are still running, going to tour nationally in the UK and some of which come back every so often, so could be ones to look out for in the future.
For now, I hope you enjoy what I have for my 2019 resumes and all else that is on my blog. I hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2020. Thank you too for following and reading my blog, without such, it wouldn’t exist. I love writing my blog and always grateful to those who give me opportunities to review and to write and to talk to people and to those who read what I write. Thank you!!!!

As I didn’t do this in 2018, here is a quick run down of the best books I read then. 
Fiction – Stealth by Hugh Fraser, Antiques and Alibis by Wendy H. Jones, The Wrong Direction by Liz Treacher, A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft.
Non -Fiction – An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe, Charles Dickens by Simon Callow, Fill my Stocking by Alan Titchmarsh.
Young Adult – Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian by J.M. Smith
Children’s books – The Treasure At the Top of The World by Clive Mantle.
Reviews can be found on my blog. Please note the Christmas books are reviewed within one blog post with quick reviews.

Happy New Year 2020

 

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Review of Hands Up by Stephen Clark @StephCWrites @widopublishing #crimefiction #mystery #fiction #BlackLivesMatter #BlueLivesMatter #journalist #Review

Hands Up
by Stephen Clark
Rated 5 stars *****

About the Author

Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com.

As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of non-profit service. He also won a Society of Professional Journalists Award for Investigative Reporting at the Stamford Advocate.

Stephen is also the author of critically acclaimed Citizen Kill, which explores the dangers of Islamophobia through a government conspiracy to end the domestic war on terror…

Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

Hands up cover

Blurb

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighbourhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story that the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness whilst mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade and Kelly – three people from different worlds – are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

Hands up cover

Review

I was excited to be contact via my blog by Stephen Clark to review his book. He kindly sent me a physical copy from the USA (I am based in the UK) and told me a little about his book. This piqued my interest because it is about issues that are still being talked about and happening now. With him being a journalist (and award-winning), I figured he would really know what he was talking about. I am honoured that after coming across my blog that he has chosen me to review for him. This has not in any way swayed my opinion of his book. My review is not biased.

From the first few lines of readers know what has happened. This book focuses on the aftermath of a shooting. I like that. It really works for this book as instantly Officer Ryan Quinn is met and clearly not only trying to convince himself he is not a murderer, but also the tone and the doubting himself is so convincing and brings a bit of humanity to him and instant intrigue as to what really went on, on the fatal day he shot an unarmed black man, but felt his life was in enough jeopardy at the time. I like that it isn’t quite a simple as that. There are complexities to this story that has a black man shot in traffic. It gives a realism to the story.

The book alternates its chapters to bring each character into the story. This really works. The first is Ryan, who then gets interviewed about the incident. The second introduces Jade who has just broken up with her boyfriend and works in Mac’s Tavern and comes across the police and shot man. There is Kelly, who readers meet a little later, who hopes to reunite with his family. It’s well laid out and instantly readers can get a feel for the main characters and the story. It soon becomes clear how all their own lives are interconnected.

Officer Ryan’s world is turned upside down. He was supposed to be planning his wedding to Kaylee, his career was being fast-tracked and now things were not looking so rosy for his present or future.

The contrast between Ryan Quinn, Jade and Kelly is brilliantly done as there is the story from the officer’s point of view, but also his life out of work and then there is the story from Jade’s point of view – the one that even in the UK, we are becoming accustomed to seeing on the news with what happens in the US with the press being around wanting to know what happened and people wanting justice for the person who was shot. Then there’s Kelly’s who shows the scene, again one that we all see on our tv screens of what has now become sadly becoming known as “the usual reaction” and similar, with the prayer vigils, teddy’s, flowers, candles.

The book continues with a shooting of the cop’s house and depicts, what sadly seems to be the cycle of revenge by violence, that is just as sad as the death of Tyrell.

The chapters with Officer Ryan in therapy are also very poignant and adds depth to his character.

Part Two of the book takes the story to the aftermath of the trial of Ryan Quinn. The format is the same as part 1 and there is still the emotion, but the story takes the characters even further and there are some unexpected turns of events and I was still hooked, as I am sure others will be too. This second and final part is as well written and as well-paced as the first part. The twists and turns keeps it all going very well and it has a good, well-written ending.

The book gives a great insight into the aftermath of American life when a shooting happens and the lives of people. There is a depth throughout this book, with issues people face, lives being complicated. There is emotion and characters to care about. This story is one that I feel anyone reading it will want to read to the end to see how it all concludes. I certainly did. It is an absorbing book and one that I didn’t want to put down.

Whether readers are American or not, this is an important and thought-provoking story that Stephen Clark is telling. I really get the sense that he is telling it like it is. News like this is sometimes international, so no matter where you live in the world, there will be recognisable parts. There will be some parts of the story that are just part and parcel of the character’s day-to-day lives may also be relatable to people, wherever they live. The book, although fiction, fits in well with current affairs from all the different angles.

The book would be great for everyone to read and would be one that would be very good for a book group too as it would really spark conversation about the subject matter raised within this book (so long as it didn’t get too heated of course as civil conversations are always best).

Links:

Click here for Stephen Clark’s Website

Click here for Stephen Clark’s Twitter