Blog Tour/Review – Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond by Sam Hearn

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Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond by Sam Hearn
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ | 4 Star Rating
Goodreads | Book Depository | Author’s Site
Published by Scholastic – Out Now! 
This book was sent to me for review as part of a blog tour.

John Watson has barely settled into his new school, Baker Street Academy, when his teacher announces a trip to one of London’s top museums, home to the world’s most famous jewel. But it’s been stolen! When police catch the thief it seems the case is closed. Can Sherlock Holmes uncover the mystery behind this extraordinary gem?

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond makes a much loved classic story readily accessible to a new generation. The story begins with a young John Watson moving to a new school called Baker Street Academy and befriending two fellow students Martha Hudson and Sherlock Holmes. Obviously a mystery needs solving but that is only one of the most interesting things about this book (though it is very interesting), a really compelling part of the story is the layout. The story is told in mixed media format, some parts of the story are told in blog entries, others in comic format and some are just different articles involving the mysterious diamond case. There are different styles and tid bits to discover on each page and I really liked it.

I especially loved how fun this book was and I can imagine it will be very popular among young children and it’ll probably create a new generation of Sherlock Holmes fans. The art is fun, the writing is fun and even the style of the book is fun. It’s just a really entertaining story. I love the modernisation of the Holmes story and how Sam Hearn brought new and exciting things to the classic lore to entertain the readers. It won’t only entertain children though, I reckon a lot of older fans will enjoy the story too as it frequently references the original ACD canon and fan favourite characters such as James Moriarty make appearances. It’s just a really quirky and lovely book and I definitely recommend picking it up for yourself or a younger reader.

Check out the other stops on the blog tour!BSA-BLOG-TOUR-03 (1).jpg

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BLOG TOUR – Defender by G. X. Todd – Five places that will feature in the Voices series

Hello again! Today I’m back from my mini hiatus (hopefully ending soon) to bring you a post featuring a book I read recently and really enjoyed, Defender by G. X. Todd. I’ll be posting a full review as soon as I can because it was the only book that managed to break my reading slump so look out for that in the near future. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this guest post and a huge thanks to the author and the publisher for including me in this blog tour! 


Road Trippin’ – Five places in the USA will feature in the Voices series

Vicksburg, Tennessee

This location plays a huge role in book 1, Defender. It’s the end destination for Lacey. It’s the place where her sister and niece live, the last two surviving members of her family. I’m awful with dates so won’t remember the exact year I visited Vicksburg (I’m guessing 2009), but I remember being enchanted with it. I could describe it here, but I do a fairly good job of it in the book, so I’ll tell you a quick story instead.

A friend and I had been travelling around this part of America as part of coach tour. We were the two youngest people on that bus but a good twenty years. After so much travelling, sat on our butts, I ended up with a singular soreness in my tailbone. It became so painful, in fact, I ended up having to buy a travel cushion to pad my butt whenever I was sitting. I suffered through a fair bit of mocking (one fellow passenger even nicked my ass cushion at one point as a joke. Oh, the hilarity). The night we stayed in Vicksburg, I was exhausted, having spent most of the day in pain, and crashed as soon we got into the hotel room with an ice-pack resting on my rear-end. My friend left me and went off investigating. She ended up watching the world’s best sunset over the Mississippi River and all I got was a wet ass from a leaky ice-bag. Despite all that, I love you anyway, Vicksburg. Here’s a picture of me there under a gnarly oak tree.

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Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport, Massachusetts

I refer to this inn as the Norwood Cove Inn in book 2 of the Voices series, which I believe is the name the Emerson used way back in the day. As with a lot of fiction, I use the Emerson as a template and then take artistic licence from there. I even pick it up and move it south to fit the story’s purposes. Us writers are naughty like that. Rockport is the furthest north I’ve been up the East coast of America. It was 2011 and the very first trip we decided to rent a car and drive ourselves around, and then I promptly got food poisoning on the flight over and was ill for the duration of the holiday. I’m painting a picture that I’m always ill or afflicted with ass injuries, aren’t I? I promise I’m not. Our plan had been to drive up to Maine and see Stephen King’s home. My stomach wouldn’t allow us. Here’s a picture of a decidedly foggy view of the Atlantic from the back porch of the Emerson Inn.

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Estes Park, Colorado

We drove through Estes Park in 2013 on our way to…somewhere. I have an awful memory for location as well as dates, which probably means I shouldn’t have offered to write this blog post. Oh well. We drove through Estes Park and it was beautiful. A huge lake spread out in its valley, and winding canyon roads with sheer wall rock-faces on one side and fast-moving streams on the other on our climb out—I loved that drive. I’d have loved it even more if I’d realised it was the area The Shining was set and where the hotel the Overlook is based on was located. Alas, I didn’t.  I guess it just means I’ll have to go back there again someday. Here is the tree in Estes Park Library which inspired the tree in the Children’s library in Defender.

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Cody, Wyoming

This is one of those places that’s always stuck in my mind. I’m not even sure why, it was just a lonesomely wide and long main road with a Walgreens on. I loved how the Stars and Stripes flag and its flagpole had been randomly jammed into the sidewalk, as if that was a perfectly normal place for it to be. Look out for reference to it in Book 3. Cody was also our gateway into Yellowstone Park, which I think is my favourite place in the whole of the States.
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Chimney Rock, North Carolina

Will I manage to fit Chimney Rock into the series? Yes, I will! It was hidden away in a deep valley surrounded by mountains and trees and we stayed in the best rustic cabin-styled hotel I’ve ever been in. There was something extremely isolating about the place, despite it being a tourist attraction (we visited outside of tourist season so missed all the crowds). I think it was due to the weather. Rain, rolling fog—it wasn’t long before hurricane Joaquin hit the east coast back in September 2015. Chimney Rock is also home to the waterfalls that featured in The Last of the Mohicans. The huge funnel-like rock formation that overlooks the valley is what gives the town its name and it normally affords a stunning view of Lake Lure below (the very lake where that scene from Dirty Dancing was filmed) but when I climbed up the 3,234,523 steps to reach the summit it was swathed in fog. THANKS, HURRICANE JOAQUIN. Here’s a picture of me doing what I do best: pretending to read in a rustic cabin.
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Thanks for reading! 🙂

REVIEW/BLOG TOUR – Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe

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Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ |  5 Star Rating
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Twitter
This post is a part of the blog tour for this book and I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. Check out the other stops in the tour at the end of the post!

Synopsis

 An inspiring, uplifting and sympathetic story about sexuality and self-acceptance, Lucy Sutcliffe’s debut memoir is a personal and moving coming out story. In 2010, at seventeen, Lucy Sutcliffe began an online friendship with Kaelyn, from Michigan. They began a long distance relationship, finally meeting in 2011. Lucy’s video montage of their first week spent together was the first in a series of vlogs documenting their long-distance relationship. Now, for the first time, Lucy’s writing about the incredible personal journey she’s been on.

My Thoughts

Girl Hearts Girl is a wonderful coming-of-age story about Lucy Sutcliffe’s (who you may know from the youtube channel Kaelyn and Lucy) journey from a shy young girl who worried about coming out to the amazing youtuber she is today. It tells you the story of how Lucy came to terms with her sexuality, her university experience and how she got to know Kaelyn online before they finally met.

Lucy writes in a simple but lovely way that was really enjoyable to read and I think a lot of people will find easy and entertaining to read. Though this book is aimed at a younger audience Lucy doesn’t speak down to the reader or simplify her (sometimes difficult) experiences, she tells her story truthfully to try and find common ground with the reader and relate to their experiences. I really connected with her description of anxiety and the toxic friendship she had with a boy named Rex as it’s something I’ve been through and I think she captured the difficulty involved really well. This book allows you to  experience Lucy’s life alongside her and go through the motions with her from her younger years in primary school to her long distance realtionship with Kaelyn. It was also great to see the little insights into how she met Kaelyn as I’ve been to subscribed to them for a few years and love their channel.

I just think this book will make a lot of difference to a lot of kids as its a non-fiction, realistic experience of how she dealt with her own anxiety and sexual orientation that I haven’t really read before, especially aimed at such a young audience. It will hopefully help a lot of kids love themselves and be able to reach out which I think is a really great thing and something I wish was available when I was younger. I’m glad something with such a happy ending is available within a market over saturated with such sad endings for LGBTQIAP+ people and I definitely recommend picking this book up if you’re looking for an uplifting read.

For a chance to win a copy of Girl Hearts Girl click here! Also I definitely recommend checking out the other stops in this blog tour which are listed below.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

GUEST POST/BLOG TOUR – ‘Why Crime?’ by Colette McBeth

Today’s post is a guest post written by Colette McBeth, author of The Life I Left Behind which you’ll find out more about below. Colette McBeth has kindly written a piece on why she writes crime centred novels. I hope you enjoy! 🙂


I tell people I didn’t set out to write crime, not even psychological thrillers. I say I just wanted to write the book that had been in my head for fifteen years. But looking back it’s hardly surprising my novel came out dark and twisted. I grew up on a diet of Nancy Drew, graduated to Iain Banks’ Complicity and the Wasp Factory in my teens. By my twenties I didn’t have to read thrillers, I was reporting on real life crime stories that were often stranger than fiction.

Now that I’ve fully embraced the genre, I’ve had a chance to think about why I write psychological thrillers.

1. I don’t believe anyone is all good or all bad. There’s a bit of darkness inside all of us. I’m interested in the situations that make people cross the line. I also think most of are closer to that line than we realise. When I try to explain this I’m fond of using this quote from the film Chinatown;

‘… most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they are capable of anything.’

That pretty much sums it up.

2. I want to make readers question their thinking and subvert their expectations. Most of us are too quick to judge. A good psychological thriller encourages us to make those judgements only to undermine them.

3. Plot. You have to have a lot of it in a crime novel. It’s the engine of the story, and along with characterisation it’s the reason we keep turning the pages. As a writer, plot keeps me awake at night and makes me cry with frustration during the day, but when it clicks, it really is a beautiful moment.

4. Thrillers are honest. When characters are thrown into extreme situations the façade is stripped back. They do what they have to do to survive. Mostly, they’re people damaged by circumstances but they are also the most interesting characters to write about. Sometimes they say the things we might think (but never utter), they might act the way we would if there were no consequences. They are our bad alter egos.

5. Having spent a lot of my twenties reporting on crime stories, I became fascinated by the ‘normal’ lives many defendants led. How does a serial killer hide himself? Why did his wife/girlfriend/brother not realise who he really was? We all like to think we’d just know instinctively if someone was a bad one, but I’m not so sure. In psychological thrillers we see that those people are walking amongst us every day. They might even be living in our home.


life i left behind

She’s dead but she’s the only one who knows what really happened;
What your friends have said.
What the police missed.
Who attacked you.
So if you want the truth who else are you going to turn to?

Find out more – Goodreads | Book Depository | Author’s Website


Thanks so much to Colette McBeth and Headline for this post! I hope you enjoyed reading and I’ll have a review up of The Life I Left Behind soon. Be sure to check out the other stops in the blog tour. 🙂 

  

BLOG TOUR – The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements

Hello! Today’s post is part of a blog tour for Katherine Clements newest novel, The Silvered Heart. I previously reviewed The Crimson Ribbon on this blog and loved it so I’m really excited to be involved in this blog tour. For more information on the book and where to find it please see the end of the post. For now I hope you enjoy a very interesting post kindly written by Katherine Clements on ‘The Real Highwaywomen of the 17th Century’. 🙂


Women of the Road: The Real Highwaywomen of the 17th Century

The story of Lady Katherine Ferrers, alleged highwaywoman of popular legend, is brimming with classic romance: the young, orphaned heiress, forced into a marriage of convenience, turns to a scandalous life of crime with her handsome lover. The myth is entertaining enough, but I wanted to explore the reality behind the romance, and one question was key: Were there really women working as highway robbers in the 17th century?

We’re all familiar with the folklore figure of the dashing highwayman – from Dick Turpin to Adam Ant, it’s an image that has excited the popular imagination for generations. The concept of the gentlemen thief has been around for centuries, becoming prominent during the early modern era, but the famous examples are all men, with swooning female accomplices, or victims, falling under their charismatic spell. I was convinced the reality could not be so neat. But is there any evidence?

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Illustration by Eric Fraser from Folklore Myths and Legends, 1973.

As early as the 13th century, there are records of female robbers working the highways, usually as part of a gang or with their husbands. Whole families might make a living this way, with wives and children acting as lookouts or decoys. But sometimes women were more than convenient bait. The Middlesex Session records covering 1549-1688 contain several cases of women accused of ‘robbery with violence’. The nature of these crimes is often not elaborated, leaving us to wonder about the circumstances of these events and those accused.

Famous female criminals could certainly make a name for themselves. Mary Frith, better known as Moll Cutpurse, became a notorious, celebrated figure of the London underworld in the 17th century. She made a living through thievery, and other dubious activity, but stories of her career as a highwaywoman during the Civil Wars are almost certainly invention.

highway#2But there is evidence of women working as accomplices in highway robbery if we look hard enough. Susan, Lady Sandys, wife of infamous gentleman robber Sir George Sandys, was implicated in his crimes several times. After his execution in 1618 it’s believed she continued to act as accomplice to her son and even, possibly, in her own right. A broadside ballad of 1626 describes her as the ‘wicked Lady wife’. Is this our first Wicked Lady of legend?

Indeed, the transgressive figure of the cross-dressing, lawless woman became a feature of sensationalist literature and broadside ballads of the Restoration period. Richard Head’s novel of 1665, The English Rogue, tells the story of the fabulously monikered Meriton Latroon, and includes encounters with several such female robbers, all loose-moraled and sexually voracious. The book was a huge success, proving that the appeal of the gentleman thief was well established, but telling us more about the public appetite for scandalous, titillating content than it does about any real woman committing such crimes.

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If we look to a later but more reliable source, the Old Bailey Proceedings from 1681 – 1800, there are around 300 transcripts reporting female highway robbers. Only one case, in 1744, involves a woman, heavily disguised, acting alone and on horseback, displaying all the expected attributes of the highwayman.

The accused, Ann Hecks, was eventually acquitted on insufficient evidence, but the sheer volume of other records suggests that this was probably not a one off. If this is the case in the 18th century, it follows that the same must apply to earlier decades, especially during the anarchic years of the English Civil Wars, when people often turned to a life of crime to make ends meet. The threads of evidence, stretching back through the centuries, suggest that highway robbery was not the realm of men alone.

But what of our Wicked Lady? What of Katherine Ferrers? Is it possible that a woman of aristocratic birth, finding herself poverty stricken and abandoned, with very little left to loose, might take matters into her own hands? On balance, I’d say yes. Is it likely? I’ll leave that to my readers to decide.


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The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements
Goodreads | Book Depository | Author’s Twitter

The legendary figure of Kate Ferrars, the infamous highwaywoman, is brought gloriously to life in this gripping tale of infatuation, betrayal and survival.

‘The distant thrum of galloping hooves conjures nothing but doubt and fear these days.’

1648: Civil war is devastating England. The privileged world Katherine Ferrars knows is crumbling under Cromwell’s army, and as an orphaned heiress, she has no choice but to do her duty and marry for the sake of family.

But as her marriage turns into a prison, and her fortune is decimated by the war, Kate becomes increasingly desperate. So when she meets the enigmatic Ralph Chaplin, she seizes the chance he offers. Their plan is daring and brutal, but it’s an escape from poverty and the shackles of convention. They both know if they’re caught, there’s only one way it can end…


Be sure to check out the other posts in The Silvered Heart book tour! 🙂

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BLOG TOUR – Narvla’s Celtic New Year by Therese Gilardi – Author Interview

Hello! Today I am hosting a stop on the blog tour for Narvla’s Celtic New Year. I was kindly allowed to interview the author, Therese Gilardi (Thank you!) and I’m very pleased to show you her answers to my questions. My review for Narvla’s Celtic New Year should be up very soon so make sure to look out for that. Enjoy!  🙂


Hollie, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to appear on your blog.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a poet, novelist and essayist. I currently live in the hills above Los Angeles. I adore blue cameos, the Paris metro and Irish pub music.

What books or authors would you say have influenced/inspired you?

My favorite writers are Marian Keyes, Frank McCourt, Charles Bukowski, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Galway Kinnell. I love how all of these writers have a strong sense of place and a unique way of using language.

What is your favourite book?

My favorite Young Adult book is “Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins. I’m very fond of “Rachel’s Holiday” by Marian Keyes and “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte.

What is your favourite thing about writing/being an author?

The relief I feel when I put my words down on paper.

As your book is set in Ireland, what would you say most interests you about Ireland and why did you choose Ireland in particular?

I am married to an Irish man and my mother’s family lives in Co. Donegal, so I guess you could say I’m quite enamored of the Irish as a people. As a writer I’m fascinated by the importance of place. For me setting is almost a character. I wanted to write about the intersection between postcard picture perfect Ireland the realities of life in Dublin.

What book are you currently reading?

I am currently reading “Case Histories” by Kate Atkinson.

Narvla is a dance champion, is that something that you’re interested in personally and did you have to do a lot of research for this aspect of the book?

Everything about step dancing fascinates me. The wigs, the dresses, even the sound of the hard shoes hitting a wooden floor. There’s something so primal and comforting about Irish music and dance. However I’ve never stepped myself, so I did have to do a bit of reading up on the subject in order to create Narvla’s dance world.

What would you say was the most challenging thing about writing Narvla’s Celtic New Year?

I think it’s always difficult to write about a place that people tend to romanticize.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading my work! I hope I’ve given you a laugh, a cry and the feeling you’ve made some new friends.


NARVLANarvla’s life is as precisely choreographed as the routines that have made her a national step-dancing champion. She has a loyal best friend, a devoted boyfriend, and a lock on admission to her dream college, the University of Notre Dame. Until her mother is named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, and her life unravels. First Narvla receives a disturbing picture of her boyfriend and her best friend. Then she struggles to qualify for the Irish elite step-dancing squad, and her grades plummet.

But the biggest obstacle in Narvla’s new life is Dublin Boy, a cheeky musician with a disdain for academics and a distrust of Americans. Although Narvla is upset when she’s paired with Dublin Boy for the most important semester of her life, her real concern is the growing attraction she feels toward him. As the Celtic New Year unfolds, Narvla is pushed to abandon her lifelong need for control and embrace the charm of the unexpected.

Narvla’s Celtic New Year will be released on April 6th 2015!

Links – Goodreads | Author’s Website 

BLOG TOUR – David Churchill’s Top 5 Historical Novelists

I’m really happy to be a part of the blog tour for David Churchill’s new novel The Leopards of Normandy: Devil! David has very kindly written a guest post about his Top 5 Historical Novelists. If you’ve read a few of my posts you’ll know how much I love Historical Fiction so I’m super excited to read and review his book for you guys which I will soon. For now I hope you enjoy David Churchill’s Guest Post! 🙂


1. George MacDonald Fraser: Not only are the Flashman books funny, sexy, action-packed, stuffed with wonderful characters both real and imaginary, and in every way pleasurable, but the way Fraser uses his historical notes to illuminate the fictional action is brilliant. One of the great literary conceits, almost flawlessly executed.

2. Wilbur Smith: A splendid storyteller in the grand, traditional style. His best books in the Courtney and Ballantyne family sagas (‘The Burning Shore is my absolute favourite) are not only proper, page-turning yarns, but are also superb guides to colonial African history, geography and wildlife. No one brings Africa alive as well as Smith.

3. Ken Follett: I loved Pillars of the Earth when it first came out and since then Follett’s own transition as a writer from thrillers to historical fiction (something also true of Wilbur Smith and, of course, Robert Harris) has been a great inspiration to me. Follett, of course, was allowed to keep his name as he made the transition. My only regret is having to change mine from Tom Cain to David Churchill – bah!

4. Jason Goodwin: There’s nothing like really knowing ones subject, and Goodwin’s Yashim novels – detective mysteries set in 19th century Constantinople – are rich with detail that only a real expert would know. But Goodwin’s erudition is worn very lightly and it’s the richness and delicacy of the detail that really brings the stories alive – that and the character of Yashim, who is surely the first eunuch sleuth in the history of the genre.

5. Mary Renault: This is really a childhood memory. My parents had half a dozen hardback Mary Renault novels – including the King Must Die and the Persian Boy- and as a bookish, solitary boy, who’d already devoured children’s books about the Greek myths and legends I devoured them all. Looking back, all those rainy afternoons spent nose down in a book laid down the foundations for my career as a writer over the past 35 years.


The Leopards of NormandyThe Leopards of Normandy trilogy tells the story of William the Conqueror in all its wild, intoxicating, unfailingly dramatic glory.

The fate of England hangs in the balance of a fight between brothers

The noble families of Europe are tearing themselves apart in their lust for power and wealth.

Emma, Queen of England, is in agony over the succession to her husband Canute’s throne … while the sons of her brother, the Duke of Normandy, battle in the wake of his death.

Robert, the younger son, has been cheated of Normandy’s mightiest castle and sets out to take it by force. He emerges from a bloody siege victorious and in love with a beautiful – and pregnant – peasant girl.

Robert’s child will be mocked as William the bastard. But we have another name for him

… Conqueror .

The first instalment in the Leopards of Normandy trilogy paints a world seething with rivalry and intrigue, where assassins are never short of work. 

Find out more on the Goodreads page or David Churchill’s blog!


Check out the rest of the posts in this tour below!

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