11+, 9+, Children's Fiction, Eva Reads Books!, Summer Reads

The Butterfly Circus by Francesca Armour-Chelu – Reviewed by Eva

Eva is back with another cracking review.  This time she’s kicking off my Recommended Summer Reads and chatting about The Butterfly Circus by Francesca Armour-Chelu.  Over to Eva…

The Butterfly Circus by Francesca Armour-Chelu

A spellbinding, timeless and beautifully told adventure about two sisters and their journey to find each other again.

Sisters Tansy and Belle are the stars of the grand finale of a circus show; a dazzling and perfectly timed trapeze act where they soar through the air like shimmering butterflies. One night, desperate to impress her older sister, Tansy attempts a spectacular jump and falls. Now terrified of heights, all Tansy can do is watch from below while Belle shines above. But when Belle mysteriously vanishes and Tansy’s shadow miraculously comes to life, Tansy discovers that the courage she needs to rescue her sister may have been inside her all along.

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The Butterfly Circus is a heart-warming tale about teamwork, friendship and sisterhood.

Tansy – a twelve-year-old girl with amazing talents – is an incredible acrobat. Everyone loved her, until one night she fell. Now all she does is watch her fourteen-year-old sister Belle, who is also an acrobat, get all the credit and fame. On a grand night Belle was about to pull one of her most exiting tricks, but then she disappeared. Tansy sets out to find where her sister has gone.

This book was both exciting and tense. However, I thought at times the pace made it hard to follow the story, and I had to turn back a few pages to know what was happening. This only happened a few times, and not enough to spoil what was an amazing story.

I loved how in the middle of the book the mood changed, and the world went from happy and jolly to dark and creepy. The writer definitely has the talent to be both funny and scary. I would recommend this book to everyone. It has great characters with unique backgrounds. I would love to read another book by this author.

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Thank you so much to the lovely people at Walker Books.  Both Eva and I loved The Butterfly Circus!

The Butterfly Circus by Francesca Armour-Chelu was published on the 6th of June and is available in paperback, eBook AND on Audiobook.

About the author

Francesca Armour-Chelu

91UnVQqAu8L._US230_I was brought up in Suffolk building dens & tree houses & although I loved writing & drawing, it wasn’t until an accident & a long hospital stay that I really got into reading; my Dad gave me ‘Pippi Longstocking’ & I fell in love with her – & books.

After school I lived in an abandoned Edwardian railway carriage & made film props before reading English & Drama at Goldsmiths, University of London. After working with children with disabilities I worked in libraries & museum education. When not writing, I work for public libraries and run creative writing workshops.

‘Fenn Halflin & the Fearzero’ was short-listed for the Mslexia Children’s Novel & the Mal Peet Award. It was also long-listed for the Branford Boase Award, the New Angles Prize, & the Little Rebels Award. My short-story inspired by Japanese folklore; ‘The Starving Ghost’, won the Mslexia Short Story Competition & my novel ‘Lemon Ink Over Flame’ was shortlisted for the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize. ‘Fenn Halflin & the Seaborn’ was short-listed for the Mal Peet Award 2017. My next book ‘The Butterfly Circus’, is due out June 2019. – Via Amazon UK

You can follow Francesca on Twitter at @fkarmourchelu

You can follow Walker Books on twitter at WalkerBooksUK

Other books by Francesca…

 

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Blog Tour, Family Drama, Romance, STEM Fiction, Teen, YA

Stilettos and Stardust by D L Pitchford

Today I’m delighted to host the blog tour for Stilettos & Stardust by D.L.Pitchford

A modern day Cinderella with a twist…

When high school seniors Noah Barton and Eden Prince’s academic rivalry ruins a thermodynamics demo, their physics teacher decides to help them get along. By forcing them to be lab partners.

As graduation approaches, Noah and Eden are too busy figuring out college to deal with each other. Noah’s football-loving dad sabotages his chance to win a big scholarship. Eden’s traditional mother cares more about finding her a serious boyfriend than encouraging her dreams. Winning big at the regional science fair is their last hope.

Will Noah follow in his astronaut mother’s footsteps?

Can Eden show her parents the environment is more important than any relationship?

Will Noah and Eden finally learn to work together?

Follow Noah and Eden’s budding romance in this emotionally charged, gender-swapped retelling of Cinderella.

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A few months back I watched a documentary on the 1986 Challenger disaster.  It sparked so many emotions in me.  The excitement leading up to the doomed mission, the aftermath and of course the families of those left behind.  Stilettos & Stardust took my mind briefly back to that documentary and the thoughts on how hard it must be to have a mother working in space.  Noah’s mother is an astronaut and as the stories begins we know that she has been involved in an accident that will change the family forever.  Noah is devastated but determined more than ever to follow in her footsteps.  Eden however has a mother who wants her to be ‘looked after’, to never have to worry about security.  Eden however has very different ideas.  She is equally determined to win a scholarship and make sure that she is in control of her future, one that doesn’t involved a husband!

Bringing Eden and  Noah together as lab partners creates an incredibly volatile situation.   Both are competitive, argumentative and wanting to take control but to stand a chance of winning the scholarship they need to learn to work together.  We soon see that there is a very fine line between love and hate and before long the sparks are throwing up lots of complicated situations with families, friends and feelings that both are finding hard to understand.

I loved the STEM element of this novel.  It added so much interest and really gave the story a great hook.  Eden is rude, difficult and likes to be very much in control, it took me a while to warm to her.  But, once I got to know her I could see the beauty of the girl underneath and I was hopeful that all would come good for both her and Noah (who was easy to love right from the very start).   The thing I loved most was the way that both characters were equal, there was no damsel in distress – I think this may be where the reference to Cinderella comes from in the synopsis.  I personally wouldn’t class it as a Cinderella story, but a contemporary story about fighting for what you want and, hopefully, finding someone to share it with along the way.

A really lovely teen/YA read that will be enjoyed by romance and science lovers alike.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.  I shall definitely be adding a copy of this in to the School Library.  A super YA read!

About the author

D.L. Pitchford

1YA and NA author D. L. Pitchford is best known for her brutally honest stories and realistic characters. Throughout her childhood, art and literature were encouraged in every form. Pitchford fell in love with The Lord of the Rings, The Dark Is Rising, and Harry Potter. By age ten, she wrote her first fantasy book. Her love of writing grew exponentially.

In 2013, Pitchford received her BA in English, Writing, and Fine Arts from Drury University. During her studies, she focused on the human condition and penned the first scenes of her debut novel. IF WE HAD NO WINTER released April 2017 and has been commended for its gritty tone and character growth.

Pitchford lives with her husband and two sons in Springfield, Missouri, where she continues writing young and new adult novels.

Website: http://www.dlpitchford.com/
Twitter @dlpitchford
Author Page on Facebook
Instagram @dlpitchford

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Thriller

One Way Out by A. A. Dhand

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the final day of the blog tour for the incredible One Way Out by A A Dhand.

The much-anticipated new Harry Virdee thriller from rising star A.A Dhand….

Bradford is Dhand’s city – he grew up there, studied there. He knows these streets as well as anyone. Tensely paced and characteristically meticulously plotted, One Way Out takes you into the dark heart of a city under siege..

A bomb detonates in Bradford’s City Park.

When the alert sounds, DC I Harry Virdee has just enough time to get his son and his mother to safety before the bomb blows. But this is merely a stunt.

The worst is yet to come.

A new and aggressive nationalist group, the Patriots, have hidden a second device under one of the city’s one hundred and five mosques. In exchange for the safe release of those at Friday prayers, the Patriots want custody of the leaders of radical Islamist group Almukhtareen – the chosen ones.

The government does not negotiate with terrorists. Even when thousands of lives are at risk.

There is only one way out.

But Harry’s wife is in one of those mosques. Left with no choice, Harry must find the Almukhtareen, to offer the Patriots his own deal.

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Oh. My. Goodness!  This book was amazing!  I read it on the train, couldn’t put it down and almost missed my stop!  It was completely absorbing and an absolutely thrilling read.   Right from the beginning the tension is there as we open on a bright, sunny day with families enjoying a film in the park.  Children are playing, there is laughter and fun being had, until that is, a security message flashes up on the screen just before all hell breaks lose.  Extremists are holding the city to ransom and Harry Virdee is drawn into a desperate hunt to find the leaders of a radical Islamist group.  There are of course many layers to this story and everything is not always as it seems.   A. A. Dhand brings a different perspective on racial relations, religious tensions and extremism to the streets of Bradford. It has you wondering who the bad guys actually are.

I absolutely loved Harry.  I loved him commitment and love for his family.  I was rooting for both him and his wife Saima.  And oh how I adored his mother.  Dhand shows us the conflict that often is faced both in and outside of family life and he made me really care about these characters.   Harry’s wife is in one of the mosques held under siege, the countdown is on and he suddenly needs his estranged family more than ever.  Life just became one big nightmare.  He needs to keep his head and more than anything he needs to find all four of the wanted men.  This is a complex, engaging thriller that I had be completely on the edge of my seat.  I completely lost track of time as I read on and on, each chapter drawing me further into the story.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and introducing me to this fantastic author.  I can’t wait to read his previous novels.

One Way Out by A. A. Dhand was published by Bantam Press on June 27th 2019 and is available in Hardback or eBook.

About the author

A A Dhand

1-9A.A. Dhand was raised in Bradford and spent his youth observing the city from behind the counter of a small convenience store. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing. The history, diversity and darkness of the city have inspired his Harry Virdee novels.

 

 

You can follow A A Dhand on Twitter at @aadhand

Find out more on his website here.

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Family Drama, Fiction, Relationship Tales

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Today I’m delighted to be hosting then HQStories blog tour for The Library of lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

A librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime in the delightful new novel from the bestselling author of

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people―though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend―her grandmother Zelda―who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heart-warming reminder that even the quietest life has the potential to be extraordinary.

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For anyone who read and love The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, you’ll know exactly how wonderful Phaedra’s novels are. You won’t be disappointed with The Library of Lost and Found.  For those who have yet to discover Phaedra, don’t wait another minute.  I loved Arthur, and now Martha has found her way into my heart.  Lovely Martha who would always help anyone but eventually found the courage to finally utter that one word that can be the hardest of all. ‘No’.  And finally begin to put herself first.

The first thing that grabbed me about this was the title.  The word Library always does it for me.  It promises adventure, stories, enchanting characters, new lives sought and found, and old demons conquered.  And there it is all wrapped up within the pages of this enchanting novel.  Martha is so ordinary and yet extraordinary. She is remarkable in  her own special way and her tale was equally joyous and heartbreaking.  I absolutely adored this novel.  It left me feeling uplifted and full of hope.  Just wonderful.  Time with this author is well spent indeed!

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick was published on the 27th June and is available in paperback, eBook and on Audiobook.

Thank you so much to the lovely team at HQ Stories for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for my review copy.  It was a joy to read.

BLOG TOUR BANNER

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Historical Fiction, Literary

JSS BACH by Martin Goodman

Today I’m so thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for extraordinary JSS Bach by Martin Goodman

J SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do. Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog. The author’s writing is a wonderland, captivating and drawing the reader in to the presented world. Time becomes no object as a literary universe unfolds and carries the reader through eighty years, where emotions are real and raw and beautifully given.


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This is such an extraordinary novel and a beautiful piece of literary based on very real events.  A novel that is both beautiful and yet heartbreaking at the same time.  There is no shortage of books inspired by the holocaust and the horrors endured by the Jewish community living in Germany and beyond, but I feel that it is a story that needs to be told again and again and again.  Martin Goodman approaches the subject in a unique and beautiful direction.   This is not only an example of the evil that can be found in our world but also of the beauty.  Otto endured so much when taken to a concentration camp where he spent the early war years.  Through his story Martin explores the despicable treatment that the Jewish community faced in what the Nazi’s considered the need for ‘purity’.  How does one endure so much hate?  For Otto an escape into his love of music literally saves his life but in doing so also entwines his path with that of the wife of a German Nazi officer, the effects of which will be felt throughout the rest of his life.

This is an absolutely stunning novel that tackles this heavily covered subject with new vigour and fresh perspective.  The ripples of what happened during this time in history need to be remembered, now more than ever.  An absolutely stunning piece of writing that I thoroughly recommend.

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Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.  I am again stunned by the quality and beauty of the books you bring to me.

JSS Bach by Martin Goodman is published by Wrecking Ball Press 

About the author

Martin Goodman

1-5Martin Goodman was born in Leicester, and has lived and worked in China, Qatar, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and France. Travel forms a large part of his writing: both for strictly travel-related books and also for novels and biographies. His first novel ON BENDED KNEES was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize, and his most recent biography SUFFER AND SURVIVE won 1st Prize, Basis of Medicine in the BMA Book Awards 2008. He is the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull. He lives in Hull, London and the French Pyrenees. ‘Such narrow, narrow confines we live in. Every so often, one of us primates escapes these dimensions, as Martin Goodman did. All we can do is rattle the bars and look after him as he runs into the hills. We wait for his letters home.’; ~ The Los Angeles Times

Website : http://www.martingoodman.com/
Twitter : @MartinGoodman2

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Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Family Drama, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland

Today I’m delighted to take part in the blog tour for Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland.

 

Keep You Close is the heart-pounding, twisty follow up to Need to Know, one of 2018’s biggest thriller debuts.

‘A strange sensation runs through me, a feeling that I don’t know this person in front of me, even though he matters more to me than anyone ever has, than anyone ever will. ‘

You go into your son’s bedroom. It’s the usual mess. You tidy up some dirty plates,

pick up some clothes, open the wardrobe to put them away.
And that’s when you find it. Something so shocking it doesn’t seem real.

And you realise a horrifying truth…
Your own son might be dangerous…

Karen Cleveland brings her trademark themes of domesticity and deceit to bear in this gripping new stand-alone thriller that will make you question how much you really know about the child you raised.

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Goodness, this was super thriller with lots of twists and turns along the way.  Steph is an FBI agent woking Internal Affairs, picking up enemies along the way but driven by her pursuit to protect the innocent from the bad.  But what happens when the bad guy appears a little too close to home?  Suddenly she is filled with fear in the one place she should feel the safest, with the one person she knows the best… or she thinks she knows the best.  As her life begins to unravel Steph is forced to face the reality that her son might juts be a stranger to her and that the past always has a way of catching up with you.

This is a taught, highly charged thriller and one I thoroughly enjoyed.  As a mother I really felt for Steph.  We worry that our children will slip away from us but she faces a parents worst nightmare and some.  Karen carries the tension right the way through and has you wondering just what else Steph has to lose before this thing is finally over.  I have to say that after much consideration of ‘what would I do?’, I have to say I probably would have done exactly as Steph did in the end.  And I’m kind of hoping there might be more to come with this story…

A perfect summer read, it will keep you reading late into the night.

Thanks so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Keep You Close is published by Bantam Press (a division of Penguin Books) on June 27th 2019 and is available in both print and eBook, and also on Audible.

About the author

Karen Cleveland

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Karen Cleveland spent eight years as a CIA analyst, focusing on counterterrorism and working briefly on rotation to the FBI. She has master’s degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard University.  She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two young sons.

 

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Blog Tour, Debut, Memoir

Minor Monuments by Ian Maleney

Welcome to Tales Before Bedtime and I’m thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Minor Monuments by Ian Maleney.

Minor Monuments is a collection of essays about family, memory, and music. Mostly set in rural Irish midlands, on a small family farm not far from the river Shannon. The book tracks the final years of Maleney’s grandfather’s life, and looks at his experience with Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as the experiences of the people closest to him. 

Using his grandfather’s memory loss as a spur, the essays ask what it means to call a place home, how we establish ourselves in a place, and how we record our experiences of a place.

 The nature of familial and social bonds, the way a relationship is altered by observing and recording it, the influence of tradition and history, the question of belonging – these are the questions which come up again and again. 

Using episodes from his own life, and drawing on the works of artists like Pat Collins, Seamus Heaney, John Berger, and Brian Eno, Maleney examines how certain ways of listening and looking might bring us closer to each other, or keep us apart. 

What is it the binds us to others and to ourselves? If we can no longer remember, then how can remember who we are? Once we leave the house we call home, are we ever truly able to return to that place – that we have recreated in our imagination? 

Minor Monuments is a thought provoking and quietly devastating meditation on family, and how even the smallest story is no minor event.

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Sound intriguing doesn’t it?  There is so much in this brief synopsis that drew me to this book.  The enquiring look into ‘home’ and what it can mean to us.  The names Seamus Heaney and John Berger also struck a cord.  But it’s memory that intrigues me.  How our memory effects us and also diseases that effect it such as Alzheimer’s, something that is becoming far too common place,  and of course that one line that reads ‘If we can no longer remember, then how can we remember who we are?’

This is an absolutely stunning collection of writing.  Ian shares so much with us and writes in such a warm, intimate and honest way.  I felt in many ways that this book is about the nakedness of the end of life of someone close to us.  We begin to notice things never seen before, things that then become memories that we return to over and over again.  But memory is a tricky fella.

Yet as we witness John Joe’s demise there is also a sense of hope and great love.  The things that only come from memories of the life that was before the disease took hold.  I think the way that Ian moves from subject matter to subject matter, memory to memory avoids this feeling desperate and sad.  It isn’t after all just a book about Alzheimer’s but also about processing our own grief and keeping those we love alive within our memories.

He was in the process of forgetting everything he’d ever known. He was fading out of the world, and I began to grieve long before the death was final. I wanted to record whatever it was he might say before it was too late. Not because what he had to say was particularly significant or even memorable, but because no one would ever say anything like it again.

It is heartrendingly sad in parts, but Ian writes with such beauty that it lifts the soul even so.  It was like listening to someone talk who you simply can’t pull yourself away from.  A wonderful conversationalist that uses words and sentences so beautifully that you almost feel you are living it right there with him.

There is so much more that I could say about this collection but I don’t want to spoil the journey for you.  I urge you to read it though and I think there will be much to discuss once you do.  I’m sure there is something in this book that each and every one of us will be able to connect to.  My only regret is that my reviewing schedule of late has meant I had to read this much faster then I would have liked but it totally swept me away and I very much look forward to returning to the pages at a slower pace once again.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.  So many wonderful books you bring to my door. 🙂

Thank you also to Ian for sharing tyour experience and memories with us.

About the author

Ian Maleney

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Ian Maleney is a writer based in Dublin. Born and raised in Co Offaly, he works as a freelance arts journalist and as an online editor at Stinging Fly. He is the founder of Fallow Media, an interdisciplinary journal for music, photography, and long form writing on the internet. Minor Monuments is his debut.

 

 

This blog tour will run until July 1st. Please do check out the post by my fellow bloggers.  Full details below.

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