#BookReview By Lou The Wild Before By Piers Torday @PiersTorday @QuercusKids #MiddleGrade #NaturalWorld #ClimateStory #ChildrensBook

The Wild Before
By Piers Torday

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Wild Before is a great story that encompasses animals in the natural world and the climate. It is suitable for older middle-grade readers.
Thanks to Quercus Kids publisher for gifting me the book to review. Discover more in the blurb and rest of my review below and the eye-catching cover.

The Wild Before cover

Blurb

Can one hare alone change the world? The captivating animal adventure destined to be loved by readers of all ages. A stunning hardback edition from the bestselling, much-loved author, Piers Torday.

One stormy, snowy night, a pure silver calf is born on an ordinary muddy farm by the light of the moon. This is the legendary Mooncalf, whose arrival has been foretold since the dawn of time.

According to a dream passed down from animal to animal, if the calf dies, a great Terribleness will come – rising seas, a plague, skies raining down fire, the end of all things… and Little Hare vows to persuade all the animals to protect Mooncalf, whatever the cost.

But it’s easier said than done, and soon Little Hare realises that he is the only one who can save the world…

A stunning prequel to the award-winning, bestselling The Last Wild trilogy, touching on timely themes of climate change, friendship, and above all, hope.
‘Piers Torday is the new master of books for children’ The Times

Review

The Wild Before coverThe Wild Before starts off illustrating different sorts of moon for the whole year. A different name per month. There’s also a glossary so children can totally understand the animals.

Readers get to know Little Hare first, who runs ever so fast to find where Dandelion Hill was. From the start you can tell there is something not right. Little Hare is on a mission to find the wild and to pass on an urgent message. Wildeness is in charge, but he encounters wolves who claim to be guardians of Wildeness in the north…. The book then goes onto the first chapter and beyond. It’s absolutely beautifully written and captivating by the tension created and trepidation. In an instant you care about Little Hare and what she has to say and hope he survives. There is also Bite-Hare, Sist-Hare and Run-Hare.
The book is cute in its storytelling and in its illustrations, but also shows some of the hardships that wildlife has. There are also dogs and humans to fear and to watch out for as the hares try to leave the farm they are on to go to try and travel northwards to get to speak with Wildeness. They also comes across Brock who is a badger and a harvest mouse, who has lots of songs. The mission also means trying to find a specific flower and that may require a human as the race is on to stop a virus.

The book highlights climate change and the sea levels rising and the hardships humans and animals have. The book also shows the natural world in action in all its magnificence and also the life and death within it and that concern animals have that their prey may capture them that day. The book also shows heirarchy in animals and Wildeness being at the top.

The Wild Before is like today’s Animal’s of Farthing Wood and Watership Down. It fits very well with these books in its themes and desire to read about the natural world and to care about it. It may be an emotional read for children, but one that they’ll find compelling to say the least.
It has, amongst the adventure and all the dangers, an important message to convey to readers too.
Classes in schools are already reading this. There’s much to read and discuss, but in saying that, it can also be read for pleasure at home too as middle grade readers will like being swept up in the storytelling and the adventure of it all.

#BookReview By Lou Z-Rod – Chosen Wanderers – A Celtic Saga Of Warriors and Saints By Martin C. Haworth #MartinCHaworth @malcolmdownpub #HistoricalFiction #ScottishFiction #Fiction #ChristianFiction #Celts #Picts #Saga

Z-Rod – Chosen Wanderers
By Martin C. Haworth

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Z-Rod – The Chosen Wanderers is book 1 of a compelling epic saga series set in Scotland during the times of the Picts and Celts.
Find out more in the blurb and the rest of my thoughts in my review. Then discover even more in the links to the websites and Facebook page, where you can find out more about the book and other activities such as hillwalks and retreats and more…
Thanks to the author – Martin C. Haworth for gifting me the book, published by publishing company – Malcolm Down.

ZRod Chosen Wanderers cover

Blurb

Chosen Wanderers is the first book in the Z-Rod series: a gripping saga set in the upheavals of Pictish Scotland in the 6th century. At the initiation of two princes preparing one to rule the tribe, a mysterious power symbol, the Z-Rod, is tattooed on one, unleashing uncontrollable consequences.

Tribal power struggles are further intensified when two Irish saints arrive whose vibrant faith and daring spirit, preserving them through the Scottish wilds, demonstrates to capricious warlords and their powerful druids, an alternative worldview of reconciliation and hope.

Straddling these two worlds is a mysterious bard with prophetic abilities. His revelation has little relevance initially, but later becomes the lifeline to recover a seemingly lost destiny. What significance does the Z-Rod and ‘bearing fire to the north’ have on an exile, and how will anything be achieved amidst poverty and obscurity?

By turns epic and homely, spiritually searching and thoroughly adventurous, this story of great undoing and remaking propels us through multiple scenes and characters in a setting which is utterly convincing in its detail.

ZRod Chosen Wanderers dbl cover

Review

Z-Rod is set in Pictish Scotland in the 6th Century, as well as at the time of the Celts. The author describes Scotland (before it became Scotland as we know it today) in interesting detail in a short introduction. The fact it is set in Pictish times provides something different to historical fiction, the Picts (indigenous people north of the Forth-Clyde divide) and the Christians. The book moves at surprising pace. It sounds more heavy than it really is. It’s pretty succinct and the intrigue surrounding the Z-Rod itself adds to the compelling nature.

There are noblemen and lords within the book and the Z-rod tattooed on one, a symbol of power and authority. The story itself starts with the initiation and readers meet Taran, Oengus, Alpia and Talorgen, then later, Kessog. There’s an air of it being a great occassion with ritual and complexity, as, especially Taran discovers in the wilds of the Pictish north, where the south are a bit more tame and are also starting to dabble in Christianity.

There’s adventure into new lands by boat and faith of reaching destinations safely, there’s also the questioning of the different faiths that are presented within the Picts and the Christian stories as they learn a bit about each other, but not exactly accepting as there are percieved curses, which adds a bit of tension between the factions.

The book takes readers to different Lochs and the River Dee, where there is tribal action, raids and murder. Along the watery adventure, there is also a spot of romance and all isn’t as easy to attract a woman as it first seems… This adds to another dimension to the story and perhaps widens its appeal a bit further, but still with the depth of history by way of the people living in the 6th century, philosophical thought by way of a dream and theology by way of the religious aspects.

There appears to have been a lot of thorough research done right down to the detailing of the different names of places, lochs and the types of people that lived in this time, such as wise old women or witches. There’s a glossary at the back to translate the older words used within this otherwise fictional tale that is also about courage, attitudes, destinys, life.

There is also an excerpt of book 2 of Z-Rod to lure you into more of Taran’s life…

About The Author

Martin Haworth worked in community and church development with an Iron-age Filipino tribe, providing an in depth understanding of pagan belief practices. Under his own business, www.roamingscotland.com, he now helps others connect with Scotland’s landscapes and ancient history, and leads Celtic Christian retreats. This book has arisen from the fusion of these experiences and interests.

Social Media

Website: https://www.roamingscotland.com/blog   There is also a buy link within there that means 10% will go to support a relief project among the Mangyan tribes of the Philippines.  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Z-Rod-Trilogy-101184882165861

Publisher Website: https://www.malcolmdown.co.uk/

#Review By Lou – The Daughter’s Choice @SDRauthor @AvonBooksUK @rararesources #Fiction

The Daughter’s Choice
By S.D. Robertson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Daughters Choice

Captivating drama is what is within the pages of The Daughter’s Choice. Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources and Avon Books for the blog tour invite and a copy of the book.

Blurb

The Daughters Choice coverIs her whole life built on a lie?

Rose has always been close to her father. Her mother died soon after she was born, so it’s been just the two of them for as long as she can remember.

But a chance encounter days before she’s due to get married leaves Rose questioning everything she has ever known.

The man she trusts most in the world has been keeping a secret from her.

And the truth will leave her with an impossible choice…

Review

There is more than 1 person’s story to tell here. There is Rosie’s, Cassie’s, Dave’s and then there’s also the truthh to come out as to what really went on.

Dave is Rosie’s dad. He has taken on both parental roles, since Rosie’s mother died and his whole life practically revolves around her. I felt a bit sorry for that, but in saying that, it is lovely how strong this father, daughter bond is. There is even a treat in store a week before her wedding day – a spa day. The atmosphere is joyous, giggly and all as it should be.

All the stories as they unfold are interesting and run through a whole gambit of emotions, like heartbreak, happiness and anger (not necessarily in that order).

An encounter with Cassie and Rosie’s world is changed… Cassie has an agenda and is pretty masterful at being able to manipulate situations.

Betrayal, secrets and lies are discovered by the reader as their stories go on that turn Rosie’s world upside down and there are suddenly choices to be made, which make this book fairly gripping.

It may not always keep you guessing, but on the whole that’s alright. The book is full of well executed drama that explores themes of family, betrayal, love and choices and it is these that are interesting to see unfold.

SDRobertsonAbout the Author

Former journalist S.D. Robertson quit his role as a local newspaper editor to pursue a lifelong ambition of becoming a novelist. He lives in a village near Manchester with his wife and daughter and now writes full-time – and it’s safe to say the career move paid off! Stuart is a USA Today and Kindle Top 100 bestseller.

Lou Presents an #Extract of The Farmhouse – A Southern Gothic Ghost Tale By L.B. Stimpson  @zooloo2008 @stimsonink @QuestionPress #TheFarmhouseOfPeaceandPlenty

Today on day 1 of this blog tour, I present an extract from The Farmhouse by L.B. Stimpson. Thanks to the author for providing the extract and Zooloo Blogtours for inviting me onto this.
Follow onto the Blurb and Extract and take a peek at a bit of this interesting, evocative, atmospheric book, that may well have your spines tingling, to see who lives in a house like this – an ageing, spooky farmhouse that just may put you in the mood early for Halloween!

The Farmhouse Book Cover

Blurb

The house, for all of its solitude, seemed incredibly noisy

The Farmhouse, having stood against time and history for nearly 160 years in the Virginia countryside, was forgotten and abandoned until Kyle and Jenny Dowling moved in during the summer of 1972.

The Dowlings, married just a year, were struggling to repair their broken marriage. It was to be the perfect place, away from it all, to heal their relationship. Jenny would write and Kyle would tend to minor renovations. The rent was cheap.

The realtor warned them, however, against staying beyond the final days of fall.

Extract

Late Spring 1972

Jenny Dowling bit her lower lip in a failed attempt to keep her opinion to herself. She had promised her husband she would keep an open mind, but she didn’t expect the house to be so dilapidated. She swallowed her doubt and concern as they traveled down the gravel road, it was so worn and lonely and if she had to admit, the surrounding fields appeared frozen in time and she and Kyle were emerging through a portal, far from modern society, disturbing the past. Haunted. Yes, haunted was the perfect description. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine the past, when wagons rolled and seclusion was necessary for survival at times.

“Oh, Kyle, you can’t be serious,” she finally blurted out as her eyes wandered along the overgrown driveway beyond the padlocked cattle guard gate which appeared to be holding in the decay spilling forth from the broken windows lining the front of the house. Empty, hollow eyes. Oh, he can’t be serious, but yet, he was.

Kyle reached over and grasped his wife’s hand. “Look, I know it doesn’t, well it might not be the secluded getaway you said you wanted, but it has some charm and it’s cheap and near enough to the city if I need to get back to the university, but I doubt that anyone will be calling. Besides, it has electricity and the realtor said she would cut us a break on the rent if we fixed up a few things.”

Jenny pulled her hand away and cranked open the window. The air was still. It was as though it was holding its breath lest a breeze break through the last shards of broken windows protecting the house against the elements. The house, this house, was exactly what Kyle had always wanted. Of course he would have chosen such a place–lonely and secluded.

The Farmhouse Book Tour Poster

#BookReview by Lou of Hot Desk by Zara Stoneley @ZaraStoneley @0neMoreChapter_ @HarperCollinsUK #Romcom #Fiction #OfficeReturn #OfficeRomance #Humour #Uplifting

Hot Desk
By Zara Stoneley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hot Desk provides great escapism that is packed full of delightful entertainment  with really good humour and romance.

Thank you to One More Chapter (Harper Collins UK) for gifting me a copy of Hot Desk and giving me the opportunity to review.

Follow onto the blurb and my full review below.

image001 (3)

Blurb

Same desk, different days. A post-it note is just the beginning…

A must read for fans of Beth O’Leary, Mhairi McFarlane and Sophie Kinsella!

Alice loves her job and wants to keep it – whatever the price. But then she’s told the company is switching to flexible working and hot desking…Alice’s desk might look a mess, but she knows exactly where everything is. Or she did. Until she found out she’s going to share it with the most annoying guy in the office.
 
Jamie can work from anywhere. He’s quite happy to sweep his work life into a box at the end of the working day. But can sharing a desk with Alice be as much fun as teasing her in person?
 
With no option but to try it and see, will their relationship turn into open warfare or will it ever progress beyond a post-it note?

Review

Hot DeskHot Desk is set post Covid-19 and people are adjusting to being back in the office with new working practices. Something so many office workers would now be able to relate to. This reality is there, but it’s not all about Covid-19. This is about Alice and how she handles going back to the office of ‘We Got Designs’. It presents itself, even from the first page, to be a very funny book indeed. The comic-timing in the writing is divine. A little bit further in and there is the clear signs of romantic frission between her and fellow colleague – Jamie and it is so well written. It’s great that this is set out near the beginning and then to see how this progresses. It’s a bit like listening into office gossip when reading Hot Desk. It’s all rather a deliciously enticing book that is so entertaining that it compels you to read to see how it all plays out.

There are serious notes to the story too, one being the real fear of the office’s future. There is also the whole fear of hot desking looming and then becoming a reality, with all the terms and conditions attached and the emotion that goes with it. Readers will be able to relate to how things can be when a desk is no longer your own. Alice finds out she has to hot desk with Jamie, so confides in her friend Lou quite a bit.

There is a sweet growing romance that sprouts in the office and yet in a light way, also brings endangered animals and conservation into the conversation. It’s lovely to organically watch Alice and Jamie getting to know each other.

Ultimately this is a rom-com that is properly funny and properly romantic. The mix of these ingredients with the premise of returning to the office and having to share a desk works wonderfully well and makes me smile. Readers can watch this office to see if the spark of their romance grows further into a sizzle or not, even with all the new things to get to grip with, this element still lives on.
After a hard day’s work, whether you’re in an office or not, Hot Desk provides entertaining, sweet and touching escapism that hits the spot very well indeed.

#BookReview by Lou of Frontline By Dr. Hilary Jones @DrHilaryJones @welbeckpublish #WorldWar1 #HistoricalFiction #SpanishFlu #Frontline #GeneralFiction

Frontline
By Dr. Hilary Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Frontline takes those at war in the First World War and in the medical profession and creates an intensely emotional, knowledgeable book that expertly weaves fact and fiction together to create a tight-knit story, very apt for our times. From the cover to the end of the story, it is intensely poignant in many ways.
Discover more in the blurb and the rest of my review and where you can buy Frontline.
I thank Welbeck Books for gifting me a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

Frontline cover

Blurb

The doctor hits the spot and deserves to be read’

JEFFREY ARCHER

A SWEEPING DRAMA SET ON THE BATTLEFIELDS OF EUROPE AS A GLOBAL INFLUENZA PANDEMIC LOOMS . . .

Frontline is the first book in a series charting the rise of a prominent British medical family in the twentieth century. From wars to a pandemic, the discovery of penicillin to the birth of the NHS, successive generations of the Burnett family are at the vanguard of life-saving developments in medicine.

Frontline is the story of an aristocrat’s daughter who joins the war effort as a nurse. In a field hospital in rural France she meets Will, a dockworker’s son serving as a stretcher-bearer. As rumours of an armistice begin to circulate, so too does a mysterious respiratory illness that soldiers are referring to as the ‘Spanish flu’.

Review

Frontline coverEvie is one of the characters who start off this book, which begins in 1910 and makes a shift to 1914. She has a baby and her story is sure to tug on many heartstrings, even the most hardened of hearts. It’s one of woe but also of courage of those around her.

Readers also follow Grace and other nurses as well as tells of how things were from a soldier, like Will’s story too and how they are linked and it becomes about them and their lives and needs to survive and what was happening in the world at the time, that they had to find ways of living in and doing their duties.

There’s a real rawness to one of the letters written, which gives further insight into what was going on and the fears that were there.

There’s the sense of life, distinct of the times and it feels like a lot of research went into this as well as passion for the subject matters. It may not be an easy read, but its authenticity and realism through fiction really shines through and develops into a great read. It takes readers to the heart of war, including The Somme, but also what it’s like to be home on leave, as Will is when he returns to Grace. There are also some lovely heartwarming moments too, that saves this book from being too bleak and in some instances, shows some humanity in the world too, especially when Christmas arrives.

Frontline is very apt for our times, as we try to survive Covid-19, this book also shows people trying to survive a pandemic too – Spanish Flu and the devastation to life between that and war. I think it could serve as something more thought-provoking about their own behaviours in present times.

The book is an intense but pertinent read. Dr. Hilary Jones has also left an “Author’s Note” at the back of the book that adds a little more about what is dubbed as “The Great War” and is poignant, as are the acknowledgements. I agree that there are some parallels that can be drawn from today between Spanish Flu times and Covid-19 times. It’s hard not to notice, if you know a bit about way back then too and thinking about it, even if you don’t, you’ll be able to find this by reading this book.

Clearly Dr. Hilary Jones is writing from what he knows from his medical background, but he’s intelligently combined this with war, of those fighting in it and of women who are not. There is a rich tapestry that runs through it and there is a sense that it’s a bit of a nod in a way to those who came before him and that sits very well with me, and I think it will with many other readers too.

Buy Links

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