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A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I have always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes and so when I saw that a series had been published, aiming to bring the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to a younger audience, I couldn’t wait to read it. After reading a few books with some grisly moments in them, it was also a much-needed lighter read than some of my recent ones!

As many people will already know, the mystery starts with the baffled police summoning consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, to the scene of a murder. A man, believed to be E. J. Drebber, has been found dead in an empty house, with no obvious cause of death. It is up to Holmes and his new companion, Dr. John Watson, to discover the truth about the death and solve the case.

Although this is a book that is targeted at children aged 7+, I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it, the story sticking to the plot that we know and love yet simplified for a younger audience. I loved the illustrations from Arianna Bellucci and also the explanations of terms that children may not be aware of, such as ‘hansom cab’.

I am pleased to see that this is part of a series – The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection, and would definitely recommend it to anyone with children who are beginning to express an interest in crime fiction. Or, if you are like me, you might just enjoy it yourself!

With thanks to Sweet Cherry Publishing and Net Galley for my copy.



**BLOG TOUR** Wojtek: War Hero Bear by Jenny Robertson

When a bear cub is adopted by a group of Polish soldiers during the Second World War, little did everyone know that he would become a fully-fledged member of the army, helping out his comrades in some of the fiercest battles of the campaign. Not knowing anything other than army life, when the war is over and the soldiers move to Scotland, what will happen to Wojtek?

Although this book is aimed at 9-12 year-olds, I think that all ages will enjoy this delightful tale of how friendship and hope can exist even in the darkest of times. Orphaned at a young age, Wojtek finds a kindred spirit in Piotr, a Polish soldier who has been forced to leave his wife and children in order to fight in the war. It was heartbreaking to read about how these men had endured tremendous hardship, not knowing if their families had survived or even where they were. The author has done a tremendous job in conveying the horrors of war without making it too difficult to read for younger readers.

Even if this had been a complete work of fiction, I would have found the character of Wojtek truly fascinating and entertaining. Wojtek, however, is not fiction and was a member of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company, helping to move ammunition during the Battle of Monte Cassino. I often found myself laughing at his antics whether it be at the thought of him sitting alongside Piotr in one of the army trucks or when he was indulging in one of his favourite pastimes – drinking beer! This was a stark contrast to how I felt when reading about Piotr’s missing family, which was unbelievably heartbreaking.

Although some of the account has been fictionalised, such as some of the army characters, much of the book is based on real events. When reading a book such as this, a sign that the author has succeeded in telling the story well is that I have a desire to find out more about the facts behind the fiction. I have already read up on Wojtek and some of his exploits during and after the war since reading this book so that is definitely a good sign!

Wojtek: War Hero Bear is a great read – you don’t have to be a child to enjoy it!

With thanks to BC Books for my copy of Wojtek and also to Kelly at Love Books Group for organising the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

Outbreak by C. Alexander London

imageWhen Sinead Starling, a family member and former friend, is seen stealing a deadly virus, the rest of the Cahill family know that they must act quickly in order to get to the truth. Is she about to unleash it on the world or is the traitor trying to stop the virus from getting out? The fate of the world lies with the Cahills, led by 14-year-old Dan, and takes our heroes across the planet on another dangerous mission.

Ever since the release of The Maze of Bones in 2008, the 39 Clues series has been a guilty pleasure of mine. Ok, the books may be aimed at children aged 8-12, but their emphasis on adventure and world history grabbed my attention from the start! Since the first book, our intrepid heroes have travelled the world, foiling disasters and now, in Outbreak, it seems as though their time is coming to an end as this is reportedly the last in the series.

Outbreak sees the return of Sinead Starling, a character we have not seen for some time. After previously betraying the family, the Cahills must decide if it is time to allow her back into the fold. A theme of forgiveness runs throughout the book as we are reminded of not just what Sinead did, but also of what actions some of the other characters have carried out throughout the series. Set mainly in Cuba and the Bermuda Triangle, the book is, as always, fast-paced and exciting as we wait to see if the virus that is threatening to take over the world can be eliminated.

There does seem to be an air of finality about the last chapter and, unlike other books, it does not appear to lead into a new story. This would be an ideal way to end the franchise. I have always thought that the 39 Clues would transfer well to the cinema or TV screen so, hopefully, this will happen one day.

Donny Trumpet Goes to the Election: The Story of a Yuge Yellow Bird by Nazan Saatci

It’s a busy time in Birdland: current leader, Blackbird is retiring and it’s time to elect a new leader. Many birds put themselves forward but it is a big yellow bird called Donny Trumpet that is making the most noise. Birdland appears to be in danger but will the old eagle be able to save the day?

As I am currently reading a weighty tome, I had hoped that this would provide a bit of light relief. The idea behind the book is, undoubtedly, a good one – turning the current political dramas in America into a light-hearted metaphor that would appeal to adults and children alike. Unfortunately, I felt it did not hit the mark. I would have liked to have seen more humour included, especially if it is to appeal to the younger generation.

Another slight criticism was the ending. Due to reading this on the Kindle Touch, the final passage of verse was written in black text on a black background, making it impossible to read.

With thanks to Net Galley and Fairy Hill Publishing for the copy of the book.

Mission Atomic by Sarwat Chadda

After discovering that The Outcast was none other than their grandfather, Nathaniel Hartford, Amy and Dan Cahill know that they have a race against time to stop him from recreating one of the world’s most notorious disasters – a nuclear meltdown. All is not how it seems, however, and soon the young brother and sister are turning to a former enemy in order to help them save mankind.

Mission Atomic is the latest instalment in the ’39 Clues’ series of adventure novels for children, the first having been published in 2008. I admit that, as an adult, the series has become a guilty pleasure of mine and the next book is always pre-ordered on Amazon as soon as I finish the current one! The next book, Outbreak, is reported as being the final one.

Initially, I was drawn to the series because of the treasure hunt aspect – children are sent on a mission around the world to locate the ingredients of an age-old serum. What I have enjoyed the most, however, are the historical aspects and how children are being introduced to some of the infamous (and sometimes not-so-famous) events that have occurred all over the world. Even as an adult, I often found myself googling some of the places that were mentioned and discovering new facts.

Like the other books in the series,  Mission Atomic is a quick and easy read. I admit to being a bit disappointed that the series is coming to an end!

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