Posted in Adventure Fiction, Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Friendship, Magic, New Books, Young Adult

Earthlings : The Beginning Ray Star 5*#Review @RayStarBooks @chronospublish @midaspr #Earthlings #ReadGreen #SavethePlanet #magick #dysotopian #animals #BlogTour #BookReview #AuthorInterview #QandA #MondayBlogs

A twisting tale of elemental magick and a broken ecosystem, Earthlings is the spellbinding debut from Ray Star exploring family, friendship and the intrinsic value of nature

Peridot Watkins has always lived a very sheltered life. Raised on a remote island by an over-protective mother, she has never spoken to anyone outside of her family.

Until one day, a strange boy Euan knocks on her window, mumbling about escape from captivity on the mainland and Peri quickly learns that the world isn’t safe for people like them. It isn’t safe for Elementals, those who have the power to control earth, air, fire, water and spirit.

On her quest to learn the truth, Peri escapes the island to discover that the world is worse than she could have possibly imagined. Humans are slaves, animals can talk and the world is run by unruly chickens.

Peri is thrown into a world she barely understands; caught in an ongoing battle for freedom and struggling to command her magick whilst trying to find Euan, who is entangled with people who may not be as straight forward as they seem. Peri’s abilities may be what is needed to save humanity but at what cost?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author via Midas PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Earthlings is intended for the young adult fantasy age group, but it explores issues that affect everyone. There is something in this story to capture most people’s interest. It envisages an alternative world where the balance of power shifts from humanity to the animal world. Whether you are an advocate of animal welfare or not, it’s hard not to see that current practices using animals are likely to harm not just them but humans too.

Peri’s sheltered life leaves her unprepared for her exceptional skills and the real world she encounters. This story is about how she copes and the difference she can make. It’s a coming-of-age fantasy story, but its setting and the world-building gives it a dystopian ethos. The inhumanity shown to animals is reversed in this world with humans as the farmed captive creatures. The story has a serious message that is impactful because of the quality of the storytelling. Adventure, friendship, family and relationships are all explored. Magickal practices feature strongly in this story through the main protagonist and as a major plot strand giving this story an engaging vibrancy.

The characters are believably crafted and draw the reader quickly into a world that should defy belief but doesn’t.

Q&A with Ray Star – #Earthlings

When creating your story, which comes first, the characters, plot or setting? Why do you think this is?

I am going to be completely honest with you, I have no plan of action when it comes to writing. The words find their way to me when I’m in the moment, and I rarely, if ever, know what I am going to write.

The Earthlings story came to me bizarrely when I was at lunch with my mother, a few weeks after my dad’s funeral. We were seated next to a small tropical fish tank, and I remember feeling so sad for the fish that would inevitably spend their lives swimming round in circles, never experiencing freedom.

I remember vividly, turning to Mum and saying quite out of the blue, “I’m going to write a book about animals that can talk.”

She stopped eating, put her fork down and said with a smile, “Well, why not?”

“Yes,” I thought, “why not indeed?”

I looked down at my dad’s ring that I wear always, and as the green gem twinkled back at me, Peridot’s tale came to life from there.

What are the inspirations for Earthlings – The Beginning, your debut fantasy novel?

Animals and the environment were the reason behind the creation of the Earthlings trilogy. As a practising eclectic green witch, I have a deep love for the natural world, and it pains me to witness how humanity neglects our home and its inhabitants.

I wanted to write a book that had a conscience to the narrative, enabling readers to contemplate how life could be if we were no longer the dominant species on the planet.  

World-building is an essential component of fantasy novels. How did you create yours?

This was surprisingly the easiest part of writing Earthlings, I looked at modern day society and without giving too much away, reversed some of the roles.

I remember thinking another writer might have a similar concept and beat me to it, itching to publish the book so I didn’t miss the opportunity to share the Earthlings tale.

Did you set out to write a book suited to the young adult market? If so, can you share why you believe they are your target audience?

I knew from the moment I wrote the first chapter that I wanted the story to revolve around teenagers, finding their inner power and trying to make positive changes for the planet. It’s a concept I believe we can all relate to.

Deep down, everyone wants to make the world a better place.

I also wanted to incorporate some of my daily practises as an eclectic witch into the novel, as an avid YA Fantasy lover, giving Peridot magick (yes – magick with a ‘k’), was too tempting to resist.

This was the only aspect of Earthlings that I debated – whether to include magick. In the end, it was my love for YA Fantasy that made it an easy decision to make.

 Is this book part of a series? If so, what aspect of elemental magick and the ecosystem does the second book explore?

Earthlings includes genuine magickal practises that I use in my own rituals, from herbal lore, crystal healing and invoking the elements to following moon cycles – I wanted to include practical magick that works and that we can use in our lives today.

Earthlings is book one of a trilogy as the story has many depths that I wanted to cover, and I physically could not cram them all into one book, as much as I wanted to!

The following book in the trilogy (Dominion) is in the editing process due for release this festive period, with the final instalment (Land of hope and glory) to be released next year.

A little inside secret for your followers; I will be writing a prequel (The Changing) which will be Peridot’s mother’s story explaining how the Earthlings world came to be, and I plan to have a spin off series from this once that book is complete.

Readers can sign up to my newsletter on raystarbooks.com for more details on this to come next year!

 What five words summarise your story. Can you explain why?

Unexpected. Intriguing. Disconcerting. Moving. Magickal.

Earthlings is the world we live in today, reversed, and with a hearty helping of magick added to each page.

Ray Star

Ray Star is a Fantasy author from Essex with a passion for animal rights and eco-living. She can often be found writing, exploring nature and occasionally stargazing underneath a full moon with a tarot deck in one hand and a strong cuppa in the other.

Earthlings was conceived from a love for the environment and inspired by her father, whose passing was a catalyst in leading a greener lifestyle.

Ray’s dream is to one day open an animal sanctuary and wildlife reserve in memory of her father. Earthlings is Ray’s debut novel and the first book in the Earthlings trilogy.

#Earthlings

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Murder Mystery, Paranormal

When the Time is Right by Kim Cano 5*#Review @KimCano2 @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #BookTour #BlogTour #BookReview #MurderMystery #Psychic #Animals #WhentheTimeisRight

 

A bond so strong that the gate to Rainbow Bridge can’t hold it back.

As veterinarian Michelle Catalano helps other people’s ailing animals earn their angel wings, she tries not to think about the empty cat perch in her own home. Or the empty side of her bed, grown cold since her boyfriend left town.

Then a pet psychic’s uncannily accurate reading leaves Michelle with more questions than the answers she thought were set in stone. And warnings so dark, she wishes she still had her cat at her side to cuddle the fear away.

When a brutal murder devastates Michelle and her family, the detective working the case is her only anchor. And soon, she’s turning to Bruce for the comfort that could heal her broken heart.

But there are too many unanswered questions about the killer, causing Michelle to secretly investigate on her own. Will Michelle’s search for answers spell her doom, or deliver help from the animal afterlife above?

A note from the author 

I want to let you know that animals die in this book. Some people have problems with that, so I just wanted to mention it upfront. The main character is a hospice veterinarian, and although readers go with her to work on and off, it’s not the main focus of the novel. I was inspired to write a book about a hospice veterinarian after my husband and I had a veterinarian come to our home to put our elderly cat with cancer to sleep. (He is the cat on the book cover). After the veterinarian left, we grieved, and I kept thinking about her, wondering how she could be strong enough to do what she does for a living. I felt that she was the kind of hero I hadn’t read about, and a story started to form in my mind, and I wrote When the Time Is Right. 

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is an unusual story for those who like stories where animal characters feature and enjoy a murder mystery. There are elements of the paranormal in this story, and it’s an emotional read.

Michelle has a job that takes its toll emotionally and demands an empathetic nature towards animals and their humans. Grieving the loss of her cat companion, and her human boyfriend, she approaches a medium for a psychic reading. The results are disturbing, and when a tragic event occurs, she needs the support of her cat, if only in spirit.

This is a well-thought murder mystery with a psychic twist. It explores the emotions surrounding the sudden loss of a loved one, and that love can transcend death. The plot flows well, the characters are relatable, and the paranormal elements give depth to the plot.

Kim Cano

Kim Cano is the author of five women’s fiction novels: A Widow Redefined, On the Inside, Eighty and Out, His Secret Life, and When the Time Is Right. Readers say her books are about strong women who struggle but survive, hard-won second chances, family life, and friendship.

Kim has also written a short story collection called For Animal Lovers. 10% of the sale price of that book is donated to the ASPCA® to help homeless pets.

Visit Kim’s website to receive a free copy of The Rescue: www.kimcano.com

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

Moonlight Over Studland Bay Della Galton 5*#Review @DellaGalton @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #Family #UpLit #Romance #Animals #Dreams #Friendship #BlogTour #BookReview #boldwoodbloggers #PublicationDay

‘Utterly uplifting, pure escapism’ Trisha Ashley, bestselling author

Animal loving Samantha Jones is on a mission to ‘live the dream’.
When best friend Abby has a beautiful baby boy Sam’s priorities change and she realises she wants more from her life.

Uninspired with her dull day job Sam plans to expand Purbeck Pooches, her seaside pet sitting business into a full-time career and embarks on a mission to find her perfect man.

Sam soon hits trouble. Her boss accuses her of moonlighting. The perfect man is frustratingly elusive and her parents make a shock revelation.

The odds are stacking up against her but Sam finds that sometimes when you reach for the moon, you get a handful of glittering stars thrown in for free.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is an engaging story about friendship, families and following your dreams set in a Dorset coastal vista. Sam is a great best friend as Abby finds when she turns up on her doorstep heartbroken and pregnant. Sam’s day job as an audio typist is a means to an end. It’s her hobby job as a dog walker and animal sitter that gives her the life she aspires to. Finding the ideal man doesn’t even make her wishlist after her latest heartbreak, but this story shows that following your dreams can lead to some surprising benefits.

Friendship is the predominant theme in this story, but gentle romance makes a lasting impact as Sam’s story progresses. The romantic male lead is not at all stereotypical, which adds authenticity to this heartwarming story. There are lots of lovely characters all believably flawed and one or two eccentrics that given the story its vivacity. The protagonists are older, which reflects contemporary society well.

This is a story about ordinary folks in everyday situations, but their friendship and love are extraordinary. This quality shines through, in insightful, and sensitive writing, making this an escapist, and uplifting book to read.

Extract from Moonlight Over Studland Bay – Della Galton

Sam Jones was beginning to feel a great deal more stressed than she had when she had left Beach Cottage, her home overlooking Studland Bay in one of the most beautiful spots in Dorset, fifteen minutes earlier. Her hands felt slippery on the steering wheel. It was hot for June, plus annoyingly a section of her long dark hair had escaped from its butterfly clip and was flicking round her face as she drove. This was because all of the car windows were down. Abby, who was half sitting, half lying on the back seat, had said she needed the air.

‘Can’t you drive any bloody faster, Sam? I’m in agony here.’

She glanced in the rear view mirror and saw that her best friend and housemate – they’d met in year seven and had been inseparable ever since – was thrashing about. Her head was thrown back, her white blonde hair fanned out against the headrest and her flushed face was screwed up in a very good impression of someone in agony. But, as Abby was prone to exaggeration, if not a full-on drama queen, Sam was nowhere near as worried as she might otherwise have been.

Sometimes she thought the only thing she and Abby now had in common was the fact they were both thirty-six. They had been born exactly a month apart – Sam on 10 May and Abby on 10 June. A month had a lot to answer for in astrology terms. Not that Sam put as much faith in astrology as Abby did. This morning, Abby’s Three-Word Fun Horoscope, which she read every day on her app, had said, ‘Don’t go yet’. Abby, as ever, had put her faith in that until she couldn’t hold off any longer, which is why they were racing along in the car now.

‘Honey, half an hour ago you didn’t want to come,’ Sam pointed out gently. ‘You were dead set on having a home birth. And I can’t drive any faster, it won’t do us any good if I crash.’ Also, she was worried about the two mousetraps, both of which contained live mice, which she’d just remembered were on the back seat of the car in a brown paper bag. The traps were shut, but if they tipped off the seat they might open and release their cargo and Abby was terrified of mice. If there was one thing worse than having a pain-ridden Abby in labour in her car, it was having a pain-ridden and panic-stricken Abby in labour in her car.

Sam knew she should have moved the humane mousetraps before they’d set out, but in all the panic of racing around the house gathering up all the stuff that Abby hadn’t bothered packing because ‘no way am I having an unnatural hospital birth,’ it had slipped her mind that they were there. Fortunately they hadn’t been in situ very long; she had planned to release the occupants in the woods on her way back to get Abby, before she’d realised quite how urgent things had become.

Della Galton

Della Galton is the author of 15 books, including Ice and a Slice.  She writes short stories, teaches writing groups and is Agony Aunt for Writers Forum Magazine.  She lives in Dorset. Della’s new fiction series launched with Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff in May 2020.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Literary Fiction, New Books, Travel

We Are Animals Tim Ewins 4* #Review @EwinsTim @EyeAndLightning @rararesources #humour #fiction #BlogTour #BookReview LiteraryFiction #LightningBooks #Friendship #Goa #Loss #Love #travel #Serendipity #multigenerational

A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.

Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and, indeed, his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.

Jan has not. In his long search, he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

Will…

Not…

Leave.

But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?

Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heartwarming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).

For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.

Amazon UK (Only 99p for a limited time)

Amazon


I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The imagery in this book is clever and enhances the everyday occurrences, making them something special. The description of the beach and its users seen through Manjan’s eyes is the first example of this. The people and the cow, all have an opinion and a purpose, as they share events from their lives. The animals’ actions and thoughts mirror the people throughout the book.

Manjan’s story is poignant and serendipitous. The author makes many of his astute observations through the man who has spent much of his life waiting. There is a balance of humour and sadness, which lets the reader appreciate the emotion and comical aspects of the story. Retrospectively, you learn how Jan ends up the beach in Goa. The people he meets along the way are diverse, and all add to his life journey. The characters are well written, they are authentic and relatable, and make this character-driven tale interesting.

Even if like me, you haven’t visited the places in the book, or didn’t live through the late twentieth century, which I did. the immersive story lets you experience each place and time, through its animal and human characters, and vivid imagery.

The hopeful ending encompasses the quirky nature of the story, whilst achieving a sense of completeness.

Tim Ewins

Tim Ewins has enjoyed an eight-year stand-up career alongside his accidental career in finance.

He has previously written for DNA Mumbai, had two short stories highly commended and published in Michael Terence Short Story Anthologies, and enjoyed a very brief acting stint (he’s in the film Bronson, somewhere in the background). He lives with his wife, son and dog in Bristol. We Are Animals is his first novel.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

The Wallflower Wager Tessa Dare 5* #Review #GirlMeetsDuke @TessaDare @MillsandBoon #historicalromance #RegencyRomance #BlogTour #Extract #BookReview #MillsandBoonInsiders #MillsandBoonHistorical

#TheWallflowerWager

Amazon UK

Back Cover Blurb

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I’ve enjoyed all the books in the ‘Girl Meets Duke’ series, stories of independent women, and damaged, romantic men. Penny and Gabriel’s story is my favourite so far, perhaps because Penny takes in waifs and strays, and has an unfailing love of animals, something I can relate to.

There are scenes in this story which are hilarious, particularly, the rescuing of Delilah, the foul-mouthed parrot, which occurs at the beginning and sets the scene for what’s to come. Penny and Gabriel’s meeting at this time also sparks the passion that grows between them and is so enjoyable.

Gabriel, the Duke of Ruin, is not from the aristocracy, but many fear him, he is driven, dangerous and damaged, but he has so many redeeming qualities, and it’s impossible not to fall a little in love with him. Penny is honest, loving and generous, but she too is emotionally damaged, and her guilty secret, means Penny and Gabriel have more in common than he first supposed.

The plot is full of historical detail and moves effortlessly along, the characters are engaging and believable. I enjoyed the witty dialogue and the simmering passion, and most of all the happily-ever-after, even though I was sad to come to the end of Penny and Gabriel’s story.

A delightful, historical romance, amusing, original and shamelessly romantic.

Extract from The Wallflower Wager – Tessa Dare

By society’s standards, Penny was rather lacking in accomplishments. As the daughter of an earl, she’d been given the best possible education. Governesses fluent in three languages, a full two years at finishing school, then private tutors in art, music, dancing.
None of it seemed to take. She’d never found an instrument willing to give up a tune for her, no matter how she strummed, plucked, or begged it. She’d attained only marginal competence in sketching.
And dancing? Impossible.
Penny did, however, emerge from adolescence with unparalleled accomplishment in one pursuit.
Caring.
Nothing pleased her more than looking after those around her. Feeding them, warming them, protecting them, giving them a home. She doled out affection from an endless supply.
The only problem was, she was running out of people to claim it.
She had her family, of course. But first her parents had gone to India as diplomats. Her eldest brother, Bradford, lived in Cumberland with his wife and managed the family estate. Timothy, the middle child of their threesome, had joined the Royal Navy.
Still, she had the most wonderful friends. Never mind that the finishing school girls had scorned her. Penny welcomed the misfits of Bloom Square. Emma, Alexandra, Nicola. Together, they made the rounds of the bookshops, walked in the park, and gathered at her house for tea every Thursday.
Or at least they had done so, until her friends began to start families of their own. First, Emma’s marriage to the Duke of Ashbury had transformed from a convenient arrangement into passionate devotion. Next, Alex had bewitched London’s most infamous rake and became Mrs. Chase Reynaud. As for brilliant, inventive Nicola . . . ?
Penny scanned the note she’d just received, peering hard to make out the breathless scrawl of ink.
Can’t today. Biscuits burned. Breakthrough near.
Next Thursday?
Love, N
Penny laid aside the charred scrap of paper and regarded the tray of sandwiches on the tea table, all trimmed of their crusts and ready for a gathering that wouldn’t take place.
Fortunately, in this house, food seldom went to waste.
Taking a sandwich, she crouched near to the floor and whistled. Bixby scampered down the corridor, his two front paws clicking over the floorboards and his lamed hind legs following right behind, rolling along in an ingenious chariot of Nicola’s design.
After several excited sniffs, the dog gave the crustless triangle a cautious lick.
“Go on,” she urged. “It’s a new recipe. You’ll like it.”
Just as Bixby sank his dart- point teeth into the sandwich, the doorbell rang. Penny rushed to answer it. At the last moment, she hesitated with her hand on the door latch.
Could it be him?
It wouldn’t be him, she told herself.
But what if it was?
Sensing her unease, Bixby whined and nosed at her ankles. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Penny opened the door.
“Oh,” she said, trying not to sound dejected. “Aunt Caroline.”
Her aunt entered the house in her usual manner— like a snobbish traveler disembarking on a foreign shore, visiting a land where the native people spoke a different language, exchanged different currency, worshipped different gods. Her eyes took in the place with a cool, smug sort of interest. As though, while she had no desire to truly understand this alien culture, she’d been reading up.
Most of all, she was careful where she stepped.
When she’d completed her quiet survey of the drawing room, she gave a weary sigh. “Oh, Penelope.”
“It’s lovely to see you, too, Aunt.”
Her aunt’s eyes fell on the quilt- lined basket near the hearth. “Is that still the same hedgehog?”
Penny decided to change the subject. “Do sit down, and I’ll ring for a new pot of tea.”
“Thank you, no.” Her aunt plucked a tuft of cat hair from the armchair, pinching it between her thumb and forefinger and holding it away from her body. Frowning at the bit of fluff, she released it and watched it waft to the floor. “What I have to say won’t take long, anyhow. I’ve had a letter from Bradford. He insists you return to
Cumberland.”
Penny was stunned. “For the summer?” “For the remainder of your life, I believe.” No. No, no, no.
Her aunt lifted a hand, barricading herself against dissent. “Your brother has asked me to tell you he’ll be traveling to London in a month’s time. He asked me to be certain you’re prepared to join him for the return journey.”
Penny’s heart sank. She was a grown woman, and therefore could not be ordered to pick up and move to the farthest reaches of England. However, the snag was this— even if she was a grown woman, she was still a woman. This house belonged to her father, and while her father was out of the country, Bradford had control. Penny lived in Bloom Square at his pleasure. If he demanded she remove to Cumberland, she would have little choice in the matter.
“Aunt Caroline, please. Can’t you write back and convince him to change his mind?”
“I’ll do no such thing. I happen to agree with your brother. In fact, I ought to have suggested it myself. I did promise your parents I would look after you, but now that the war is over I intend to travel the Continent. You shouldn’t be living alone.”
“I’m six- and- twenty years old, and I’m not living alone. I have Mrs. Robbins.”
Wordlessly, her aunt picked up the bell from the tea table and gave it a light ring.
Several moments passed. No Mrs. Robbins.
Aunt Caroline craned her neck toward the main corridor and lifted her voice. “Mrs. Robbins!”
Penny crossed her arms and sighed, fully aware of the point her aunt meant to make. “She’s always looked after me.”
“She isn’t looking after you any longer. You are looking after her.”
“Just because the old dear is a touch hard of hearing— ”
Aunt Caroline stomped on the floor three times— boom, boom, boom— and shouted, “MRS. ROBBINS!”
At last, the sound of aged, shuffling footsteps made its way from the back of the house to the drawing room.
“My word!” Mrs. Robbins said. “If it isn’t Lady Caroline. I didn’t know you’d dropped by. Shall I bring tea?”
“No, thank you, Robbins. You’ve served your purpose already.”
“Have I?” The older woman looked confused. “Yes, of course.”
Once Mrs. Robbins had quit the room, Penny addressed her aunt. “I don’t wish to leave. I’m happy living in Town. My life is here. All my friends are here.”
“Your life and your friends are . . . where?” Aunt Caroline looked meaningfully at each one of the unoccupied chairs, at the trays of cold tea and uneaten sandwiches, and, finally, at the three kittens shredding the draperies with their tiny claws.
“I have human friends, as well,” Penny said defensively.
Her aunt looked doubtful.
“I do. Several of them.”
Her aunt glanced at the silver tray in the entrance hall. The one where calling cards and invitations were heaped— or would be, if Penny ever received them, which she didn’t. The tray was empty.
“Some of my friends are out of Town.” Aware of how absurd she sounded, she added, “And others are mad scientists.”
Another pitying sigh from her aunt. “We must face the truth, Penelope. It’s time.” It’s time.
Penny didn’t need to ask what her aunt meant by that. The implication was clear.
Aunt Caroline meant it was time to give up.
Time for Penny to return to the family home in Cumberland and resign herself to her destiny: spinsterhood. She must take on the role of maiden aunt and stop embarrassing both the family and herself.
After nine years in Town, she hadn’t married. She hadn’t even entertained any serious suitors. She rarely mingled in society. If she were being honest, she would strike “rarely” and replace it with “never.” She didn’t have any intellectual pursuits like art or science or poetry. No bluestocking salons, no social reform protests. She stayed home with her pets and invited her misfit friends to tea, and . . .
And outside her tiny sphere, people laughed at her.
Penny knew they did. She’d been an object of pity and ridicule ever since her disastrous debut. It didn’t bother her, except— well, except for the times that it did.
As a person who wanted to like everyone, it hurt to know that not everyone liked her in return.
Society had long given up on her. Now her family, as well.
But Penny was not giving up on herself. When her aunt moved to leave, she grasped her by the arm.
“Wait. Is there nothing I can do to change your mind? If you advocated on my behalf, I know
Bradford would reconsider.” Her aunt was silent.
“Aunt Caroline, please. I beg you.”
Penny could not return to Cumberland, back to the house where she’d passed the darkest hours of her life. The house where she’d learned to bottle shame and store it in a dark place, out of view.
You know how to keep a secret, don’t you?
Her aunt pursed her lips. “Very well. To begin, you might order a new wardrobe. Fur and feathers are all well and good— but only when they are worn on purpose, and in a fashionable way.”
“I can order a new wardrobe.” It wouldn’t include fur and feather adornments, but Penny could promise it would be new.
“And once you have a new wardrobe, you must use it. The opera. A dinner party. A ball would be preferable, but we both know that’s too much to ask.”
Ouch. Penny would never live down that humiliating scene.
“Make an appearance somewhere,” her aunt said. “Anywhere. I want to see you in the society column for once.”
“I can do that, too.” I think.
Considering how long she’d been out of circulation, invitations to dinner and the theater would be harder to come by than a few up- to- current- fashion gowns. Nevertheless, it could be accomplished.
“Lastly, and most importantly”— Aunt Caroline paused for effect— “you must do something about all these animals.”
“What do you mean, ‘do something’ about them?”
“Be rid of them. All of them.”
“All of them?” Penny reeled. Impossible. She could find homes for the kittens. That had always been her plan. But Delilah? Bixby? Angus, Marigold, Hubert, and the rest? “I can’t. I simply can’t.”
“Then you can’t.” Her aunt tugged on her gloves. “I must be going. I have letters to write.”
“Wait.”
Surely there was a way to convince her aunt that didn’t involve abandoning her pets. Perhaps she could trick her by hiding them in the attic?
“I hope you’re not thinking you can hide them in the attic,” her aunt said dryly. “I’ll know.” Drat.
“Aunt Caroline, I’ll . . . I’ll try my best. I just need a little time.”
“According to your brother, you have a month. Perhaps less. You know as well as I, it takes the mail the better part of a week to arrive from Cumberland.”
“That leaves only three weeks. But that’s nothing.”
“It’s what you have.”
Penny immediately began to pray, very hard, for rain. Come to think of it, considering the amount of rain England typically saw in springtime, she probably ought to pray for something more. Torrential, bridge- flooding, road- rutting downpours. A biblical deluge. A plague of frogs.
“If, by your brother’s arrival, I am convinced there’s something keeping you in London other than an abundance of animal hair . . . ? Then, and only then, I might be persuaded to intervene.”
“Very well,” Penny said. “You have a bargain.”
“A bargain? This isn’t a bargain, my girl. I’ve made you no guarantees, and I’m not convinced you’re up to the challenge at all. If anything, we have a wager— and you’re facing very long odds.”
Long odds, indeed. After her aunt had gone, Penny closed the door and slumped against it.
Three weeks.
Three weeks to save the creatures depending on her.
Three weeks to save herself.
Penny had no idea how she would accomplish it, but this was a wager she had to win

Posted in Book Review, Childrens Books

4#Review- Truman the Dog – My Furry Foster Family – Debbi Michiko Florence – Illustrator Melanie Demmer #childrensbooks #animals #rescue #dogs @DebbiMichiko @melaniedemmer

“T” is for Truman, tricks, and TROUBLE! Truman the black lab might be an older rescue dog, but he’s still got enough mischief beneath his collar to keep eight-year-old Kaita Takano and her animal-fostering family on their toes from morning till night. Chewed through and through, the playfully illustrated, Kaita-narrated chapter book promises plenty of canine fun.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Capstone via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

There are lots of good things about this children’s story aimed at the five to seven age group. The story is well-paced, easy to understand and written in a fun, upbeat way. The illustrations are colourful and lovely, and they complement the text perfectly.

This book features the Takano family and their experiences, as they foster older rescue dog Truman. Told from Kaita, the daughter’s point of view, this story contains accurate descriptions of fostering a large dog both good and not so good, and manages to portray the dos and don’ts of fostering rescue animals, in an easily understandable and non-judgmental way.

This is more a diary of experiences than a story, but it is entertaining to read and does put the messages across well. It is also worth noting that the advanced reader copy I read is written in English (US), which does raise differences in spellings of keywords for the UK readers. Not a problem for adults, but may engender some confusion in young readers?

I like the sections at the back of the book, a glossary of terms, some questions to think about in relation to the story, and some activities. There is also a feature on the young girl and family who inspired the story, which is interesting.

This is part of a series of books on fostering animals, which will make educational and entertaining reading for the age group intended.

Author Bio:

Debbi Michiko Florence writes books for children in her writing studio, The Word Nest. She is an animal lover with a degree in Zoology and has worked at a pet store, the Humane Society, a raptor rehabilitation center, and a zoo. She is the author of two chapter-book series: Jasmine Toguchi (FSG) and Dorothy & Toto (Picture Window Books). A third-generation Japanese American and a native Californian, Debbi now lives in Connecticut with her husband, a rescue dog, a bunny, and two ducks.

Illustrator Bio:

Melanie is an American artist born and raised in Plymouth, Michigan. She has been drawing since she was a little girl. Back then, her favorite canvas was pavement and her go to medium was sidewalk chalk. Nowadays, Melanie likes to create artwork digitally but also enjoys using watercolor, markers, colored pencils, and acrylic paint. Oh, and sometimes a pinch of glitter too! Melanie is a 2013 graduate of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan where she earned a BFA in Illustration. The Michigan-native has since relocated to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in illustration and design.

Posted in Animal Welfare, Book Review, Childrens Books

Mr Dog and the Rabbit Habit – 5*#Review -Ben Fogle- Steve Cole- Illustrator- Nikolas Ilic @HarperCollinsCh @BenFogle @SteveColeBooks @nikolas_ilic #childrensbooks #childrensfiction #animals #dogs #rabbits #conservation

A brand new young fiction series by TV broadcaster and intrepid explorer Ben Fogle, inspired by his real-life animal experiences…

Co-written with best-selling children’s author Steve Cole and illustrated throughout with beautiful black and white illustrations by Nikolas Ilic.

You can always count on Mr Dog to help an animal in trouble…

When a mother rabbit is captured in a trap, he ends up playing bunny sitter

But someone wants rid of All the rabbits, not just this one, and time is running out for Mr Dog to save them…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins Children’s Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A refreshingly different children’s illustrated story with wonderful relatable animal characters and an important message, delivered in easy to understand bite size pieces, about animal conservation and welfare. The fun illustrations reinforce the text and make this book suitable for younger children too.

This adventurous and fun story has believable characters with recognisable animal characteristics. It should be a favourite of both children and adults lucky enough to read this book too.

The plot although necessarily simple does have a couple of twists and doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming too sinister or cliche for the intended audience. It deals with contemporary animal husbandry and conservation issues in a readable and understandable way.

Mr Dog is the star, and he is an instant hit with me. Adventurous, clever, courageous, fun and kind, he has desirable personality traits that resonate with children and he makes a good role model.

An enjoyable read for children and their adults and the makings of an important, yet fun series.

Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

Snowflakes Over Moon Cottage – Lucy Daniels – 4* Review

 

It’s Christmas-time in the little Yorkshire village of Welford, and the first snowflakes are just starting to fall.

As far as Susan Collins is concerned, this Christmas is all about quality time with her family, especially her son Jack. After a string of terrible dates, she’s given up on love, and Susan’s certainly got plenty to keep her busy.

That is until she meets handsome children’s author Douglas Macleod. Dishevelled in appearance with bright red hair he is the opposite of Susan’s usual type, but an undeniable spark soon lights up between them. But then Michael Chalk, Jack’s father, turns up on the scene wanting to be a family again – and Susan finds herself torn.

With snow settling on the ground and the big day fast approaching, who will Susan and Jack be choosing to spend Christmas at Moon Cottage with this year?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Animals, children and romance all make this story a perfect festive book. If you haven’t read any other books in the series, like me, don’t be put off, it’s a great standalone read.

Single mum Susan has had enough of dating sites and nearly doesn’t accept her latest date who definitely isn’t her type. I love that Douglas is more like a Christmas elf than Prince Charming, but he has a good heart and cares for Susan and Jack and really that’s all that matters.  I disliked Michael from the beginning, weak and self- serving, you really want Susan to see through his false charm and looks.

Full of nativity plays, comical children’s’ behaviour and lovable rescue animals, this story is heartwarming with a sparkling romance that demonstrates the joy and poignancy of the festive period.

I received a copy of this book from Hodder&Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.