#Review of Blaze Dog Detective – The Magic Flag Mystery by Lin Anderson and Donald McKay @Lin_Anderson @Blazespage #BlazeDogDetective #Childrensbook #kidslit #mystery #adventure #cozymystery #kindle #ReadingforPleasure #Easter

Blaze Dog Detective – The Magic Flag Mystery
By Lin Anderson and Donald McKay,
Rated 5 stars *****

Today on Good Friday, to wish you all a good Easter weekend (even if it will be different), I am pleased and delighted to be sharing my review of Blaze Dog Detective – The Magic Flag Mystery. This is the first in the series, available now as an e-book on Amazon and will be available in physical form when normality resumes. 

Twitter page links:
For Blaze – Oor Blaze Fae Skye – Blazes Page
For Lin Anderson – Lin Anderson

I thank Lin Anderson for contacting me with the opportunity to review this book and for providing a PDF copy of the book, and the various photos of Blaze, which you will see as you scroll further down my blog post. 

About the Author

Lin Anderson is best known as the creator of the forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod series of crime thriller novels and is now also writing the children’s books – Blaze Dog Detective series. She is also known for her part in founding the annual ‘Bloody Scotland’ crime writing festival. 

Blurb

When the famous fairy flag of the Clan MacLeod disappears from a locked room at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, the police immediately call in Blaze Dog Detective.
After all his scenting skills on the island are legendary.
With his team of Rosa, Rory and wee brother Laoch, Blaze leads the chase to rescue this magical flag before it can be spirited away from the island forever.

Blaze Cover

Review

A map, a castle, a secret passage, adventure, cute dogs, robbers, police, a mystery to be solved, this children’s book has it all. There is wonderful mix of mild trepidation and humour and a terrific energy throughout. With all that and excellent characterisation and plot, I am highly recommending this book for children. Read on to find out more…

blaze fae Skye
Blaze from Skye

This is the first in a brand new detective series for children. Blaze happens to be a real dog in Skye who lives with his wee brother Laoch and their human dad and these are the main characters within this book, in fictional form.

The approach of writing about the dogs is excellent as they are not cartoon-like, they are written much more realistically than that. The instincts and observations of the dogs is cleverly written as they take on this quality that readers will want to get to know more of. There’s a warmth and wisdom in the characterisation that makes them endearing.

I enjoy the fact that readers will get to know the Isle of Skye, Scotland  and then the dogs and then the story pulls you in even deeper into the mystery of the stolen and valuable Fairy Flag.

I love that there is a map of Skye that children can have fun with. I love maps in children’s books. It always, immediately helps to give them a sense of place as the story is set, whether readers have been to the setting, in this case the Isle of Skye, Scotland or not. The writing throughout also gives a beautiful sense of Skye and its magical landmarks.

Blaze and naughty on beach
Blaze and Laoch on beach

Readers quickly find out how Blaze became a detective dog and also meet Granny Beaton (Granny B). She is no ordinary granny at all, riding a motorbike and possessing a crystal ball and has a 10-year-old granddaughter – Rosa from Glasgow.

There is a bit of danger within this story when news unfolds that the Fairy Flag at Dunvegan Castle, where the Chief of Clan McLeod lives,  has been stolen, meaning that the school trip for a summer castle party may be cancelled. There’s a terrific illustration of the castle and its grounds, plotted like a map to explore, that is a brilliantly conceived idea.

Fang is easy to sympathise with as his story unfolds and readers will find out if he knows anything about the Fairy flag or not and about the mysteriously clever crows that appear.

The hunt is on and there is a determination to find the Fairy Flag and who stole it, with secret passageways, a cave, a mysterious boat called The Darkness, there’s excitement, adventure and mild trepidation and team work to try and get the flag back, before it is gone forever. There’s also the distraction of rabbits to chase along the way and a hope that PC Munroe will be able to help. 

blaze and ferry          blaze figures it out

There’s some red herrings here and there, that creates for a great story for keeping readers guessing and gives scope to feel really involved in solving the mystery.

So this book is very much worth transporting yourselves to Skye and joining Blaze with his mischievous, fun brother in Skye, as he tries to solve this mystery.

The book is available now on Amazon and later on there will be physical copies available, when restrictions are lifted, so I highly recommend you watch out for all the different ways to purchase this book as they materialise. Just now, it is in E-book form and will make for perfect Easter weekend reading.

Click the link to purchase: Amazon

Blaze knows all the best walks in Skye and even sometimes comes to the mainland. 
Lin Anderson kindly shared a few. Hover your curser over the photos to find a little more about where Blaze is in each of the locations. 

 

Blaze 'n Trails
Walks on Skye

The Bobby Girls Secrets by Johanna Bell @JoBellAuthor @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity @TeamBookends #TheBobbyGirls #strictlysagagirls #WW1 #HistoricalFiction #bookreview #readingforpleasure #NewBook

The Bobby Girls Secret
By Johanna Bell
Rated: 5 stars *****

 

This is a delightful sequel to The Bobby Girls. I’ve been looking forward to re-joining the volunteer policewomen and I am so pleased that I have the opportunity to and to review this excellently written and researched book that has wonderful characters and plot.

I thank Joahnna Bell for being in touch with her publishers to ask them to accept my request to review again and I thank her publisher Hodder and Stoughton for accepting my request to review this wonderful series of books. 

About the Author

Johanna Bell cut her teeth on local newspapers in Essex, eventually branching ut into magazine journalism, with stints as a features editor and then commissioning editor at Full House magazine. She now has sixteen years’ experience in print media. Her freelance life has seen her working on juicy real-life stories for women’s weekly magazine market, as well as hard-hitting news stories for national newspapers and prepping her case studies for TV interviews. When she’s not writing, Johanna can be found walking her dog with her husband or playing peek-a-boo with her daughter.

The Bobby Girls' Secrets

Blurb

As the Great War rages on, will the truth come out?

1915. Best friends Irene, Maggie and Annie are proud members of the newly renamed Women’s Police Service. While Britain’s men are away fighting in France, the girls are doing their bit by keeping the peace at home in London’s East End.

But out of the blue, Irene is given the opportunity to be stationed near an army barracks in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Having recently experienced some heartbreak and keen for the adventure, she decides to go. What could possibly go wrong?

It turns out, plenty. One of the other WPS girls takes an immediate dislike to her and makes her life a misery. On top of that, the man she thinks could be the answer to all her problems isn’t all he seems. And when she finds a psychologically disturbed deserter in hiding, she has a very difficult decision to make . . .

Can Irene overcome all these obstacles without Maggie and Annie by her side, and find true happiness at last?

Review

As soon a I read The Bobby Girls, I wanted to read The Bobby Girl’s Secrets. I must say I was not disappointed. After the first one, I just knew that the second one would be worth the wait. This set of girls have captured me and this is turning out to be one enthralling series, with very likeable characters and highly believable plots. This is down to the research that Johanna Bell has put in, and clearly she has a love of this time period. I love too, that even though there’s a lot going on in the women’s personal and work lives, there are strong bonds of friendship, something perhaps people can carry through into their own lives during and after challenging times.

We re-join Irene, Maggie and Annie in 1915 on Bethnal Green. The three women, in their 20s, who made it to join the Women Police Service (WPS) are now firm friends, despite such different backgrounds and having little in common. There is a great camaraderie about them as they look out for each other. Johanna Bell, ensures you really get to know these likeable characters and their personal lives, as well as their working ones and she does it in a way that you want to be involved with them. There’s heartache and hard-hitting issues, and yet it’s a lovely relaxed pace. The book deals with prostitution (nothing explicit), the consequences that war is having on the men and life in-between, such as how hard it is to deal with losing someone you have feelings for and yet not necessarily reciprocated.

Readers will travel to Grantham to see what new challenges are posed and there are some new characters to meet, such as, Mary, Ruby, Helen and Chief Inspector Boldwood. The issues of status are nicely shown and the differences in attitudes and acceptance of policemen and those who are women on the volunteer team, not to mention some tensions between those in Grantham and a Londoner who had an easier time than them. There’s the trials of things being different in London and the countryside. There’s also tensions between stall holders and soldiers, with the merchants giving the men a hard time. There’s also challenges of getting used to the imposed curfews,due to prostitution. It is interesting to read about the different attitudes and opinions on it, from the volunteer women’s police service point of view. It isn’t all work however as romance is in the air, but all is not all as it seems.

The book is very well researched and is very interesting about different attitudes of the time. Although there is less of the characters (apart from Irene) in the first book, this is still a very good read as Irene carries the story forward and it is interesting meeting new characters in a new location. I feel it also gives a wider perspective of what was happening at that time.

Just like in The Bobby Girls, there is a really interesting part in the last pages of the book, after the story has finished and after the acknowledgements, there are some brilliant photos of Grantham and the people depicted within this book.

You can Pre-Order now from bookshops (lots are open for business online, including independent bookshops) and Amazon. The published date is May 2020.

Look out for the third book in this delightful series – Christmas With The Bobby Girls.

Take care folks!

Elaine Everest, Deborah Burrows, Margaret Dickinson, Rosie Hendry, Evie Grace, Clare Harvey

 

#Review of Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi – A Beautiful book about family, love, civil-war and more #PaperSparrows @EzziAbi @HhouseBooks #Fiction #libraries #readingcommunity #writingcommunity #readingforpleasure

Paper Sparrows
By Nathalie Abi-Ezzi
Rated: 5 stars *****

Thank you to Holland House Books for trusting me and my blog enough to approach me to choose a book to review. I chose 2 and one of them is Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi, which is highly praised by The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Sunday Business Post, The Financial Times and more… The book is definitely, in my humble opinion worthy of such people praising it. It’s a fabulous book that will take you on a journey out of London to Lebanon to Beriuit. It will also take you on a journey of a perhaps, different life, but one that will have some resonance. It is emotive, powerful and yet subtle at the same time about what was going on in 2006. The book was published early March 2020.

About the Author

Nathalie Abi-Ezzi was born in Beirut, and has lived in Lebanon, Austria and the UK.
It was while working on her PhD in English Literature at King’s College London that she realised that she wanted to write her own novels, rather than just analyze other people’s. So, while working variously with an editor, teacher and tutor, she wrote and published several prize-winning short stories and her first novel, A Girl Made of Dust, was widely praised, and was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and te Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was the winner of the liBeraturpreis in 2011.

Blurb

Back to Lebanon – to family, love and war…
Layla, a 19 year old music undergraduate, travels from London back to Lenanon for the summer holidays, only to find that her brother has gone missing. Without a second thought, she sets off to find him in Beirut. On her way, she picks up a stray dog, falls in love with Joe, another student, and sees her country through entirely new eyes. But just as she is beginning to pick up clues about where her brother might be, the July war breaks out and turns everything on its head.

Paper Sparrows

Review

What can I say? Amazing, Must Read, Beautifully written. The author captures music, love, civil war, family strains, compassion, warmth, anger incredibly well. I thought I would take a chance on this book and I am so pleased I did. Discover Layla, her family, the country she grew up in and what happens in her life and to the place she called home, all within this fantastic book. This is one of those books I hope many people read. It is more than what you may initially think it is. It is gently written, but the themes are anything but gentle. This is a book with substance and one I find myself hoping everyone takes a chance like I did and read it.

I cannot help but mention is the wonderful cover art. I absolutely love it, with the sparrow and pattern. It is so fitting for this book as, apart from it being called Paper Sparrow, it is set in London, Lebannon and Beirut. From the outset, this is a beautifully written book . It’s a book I felt caught up in and really hope others try reading this amazing and lovely book. This isn’t to say it is a cosy read. The words may drift easily along, but there is bite in this book as the plot builds and builds. It’s a book I highly recommend.

There is life, music and love in the air with the backdrop of civil-war. The way it is all written and joins together is encapsualting, beautiful and sensual. Wherever you live in the world, there is something that people will find relatable or familiar to what they’ve seen on the news, but written so much more subtly as this is also about the spaces in-between the war, where ordinary civilians lives go on.

19 year old Layla is the main character in this book. She is an under-graduate at the Royal College of Music in London and returns to Lebannon to attend a wedding. Imagine being away from your home country and returning to find things are just not quite the same? Layla did. She has been away for quite some time and people have changed. The book pronounces these changes and the feelings about them empathetically. There are also some wonderful and warm memories from her childhood that she reflects on from time to time, especially music.

Ziad – Layla’s brother goes missing. There’s been the pressure of exams put upon him, on-top of a worrying job-market situation and he may or may not want to take over the pharmacy. Something everyone, the world over can relate to, perhaps not the pressure of taking over a family business, but the rest of it. So, Layla goes on a road trip to Beirut to find him, picking up a stray dog along the way. It sounds trivial, it isn’t. The dog becomes more like a friend and she needs it. There is the desperate worry of what could have become of her brother.

This however is no ordinary story about growing up and life changing, this is a story taking place when there is civil war.
It is so well told and a great demonstration of how life can seem quite average and yet have different challenges from many other western countries as there are checkpoints to contend with, soldiers around and the news of what Hezbollah’s leader will do next and where his army will encroach on. This isn’t also your usual political story either. Find out the effects of civil war and family has on a person and find out where Layla goes and her geographical and life journey here. The book may be fiction, but the conflict in 2006 was very real.

There is something for most readers in this book.

In this very different time, let me take a moment to write a short note:

Bloggers care…As I write this, my thoughts also turn to everyone who is now experiencing very different times, possibly more challenging times as the Corona Virus and its effects unfold. Be Kind to Each Other and Take Care. More reviews and extracts will come on many of our blogs. Most of us bloggers have stepped up to support readers, authors and publishers and much more when we can. I want to let readers know still, what is coming soon or is newly published and independent bookshops also provide delivery services. I also know that this may be an isolating time for some and it is recognised that books can go some way in dealing with that as they can give people an outlet when they cannot go anywhere and a bit of release for a little while from these uncertain times. Books can provide the perfect escapism and are also good for wellbeing. It is lovely to see that so many Bloggers, Readers, Authors, Publishers are all trying to support each other, because we are all in it together. Take care and I hope you are all well. Thank you!

Review of The Rise of the Rays by Wes Markin @MarkinWes @CazVinBooks #CrimeFiction #Thriller #Review #BlogTour

The Rise of The Rays
By Wes Markin
Rated: 4 stars ****

Today is my turn on The Rise of the Rays blog tour. Thanks to Caroline Vincent and Wes Markin for the invite and the proof-copy. I’ve reviewed most of this series now and there is plenty of suspense, especially in this well-written, fast-paced thriller that will make you want to keep turning those pages.

About the Author

Rise of the Rays Wes Markin Author Image (1)Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

Having finished the fourth instalment in the DCI Yorke series, Rise of the Rays, Wes is now working on the fifth instalment of DCI Yorke’s wild ride. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.

Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.

Wes Markin on Social Media  

                                       Links:
Twitter                                      twitter.com/MarkinWes
Facebook Author Page       
http://www.facebook.com/WesMarkinAuthor
Goodreads Author Page     
bit.ly/GRtoWesMarkin

Blurb

Wes Markin’s most heart-pounding and dark thriller yet

They say that lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice. How the people of Wiltshire wished that were true.

When Paul Ray decides to burn down his evil family’s legacy, he falls into the clutches of those he thought gone.

And now Detective Yorke and his team face a race against time to find Paul before Wiltshire again falls under the dark spell of a ruthless family.

Unfortunately for Yorke, the answers lie in the most sinister of places. The beating heart of a long-dead killer.

Can Yorke find the truth before it’s too late? Or will the curse of the Ray family prove too strong?

Rise of the Rays book cover (1)

Review

Today I welcome back the Detective Yorke books. I have had the privilege of reviewing a few in this series now. I thought The Silence of Severance was dark and yet gripping, but wait until you get the chance to read this one. It goes even deeper and darker into what sort of family the Rays were/are. They aren’t a family to be messed around with, nor the type you would want to meet or be involved with. Wiltshire is about to be under this mean family’s spell yet again and it is most definitely a county in trouble if it does. There are some quite chilling scenes and can get pretty gory at times. Even though, perhaps the faint-hearted may find Wes Markin’s books a bit much, they are a compulsive read because there is always enough to make you wonder what is next. There is also plenty of suspense within this book. There is generally suspense within this series, but there seems even more so in this one.
The ending is an intriguing ending. Book 5 is already for pre-order, I am told and I have a feeling the end to book 4 will lead onto book 5, just a bit.

I would say it is probably good to read the series from the beginning, but there is also however, enough written about previous events to remind readers about what happened previously or to be introduced to the series and the characters involved.

The book isn’t all just about the crime, like those previous in the series, it shows the police characters lives outside trying to solve the case. They have their personal issues to deal with. I still like this, it shows they are human and life has many strands to it.

I have been invited to review on blog tours for Wes Markin’s books  from book 2 – The Repenting Serpent and haven’t been disappointed yet. The quality of the writing is good and gets better the more the Wes Markin writes too. The premise of the plots and the characters are very good. All in all, this is a series you can really get stuck into and have that anticipation of wanting to know what will happen next to the characters.
If you like your books fast-paced, dark and intriguing, this is the series for you.
You will also have to check the book out to see if Detective Yorke will find Paul or not…

Below is a list of the series so far:

#1 One Last Prayer for the Rays          
#2 The Repenting Serpent                       

#3 The Silence of Severance

#4 Rise of the Rays

Enjoy following the rest of the tour.

Rise of the Rays Blog Tour Poster 2.0 (2)

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.