The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe (Book Review)

Publishers Hodder Children’s Books
Pages 302
Book Birthday 26.1.2021
How I Got It NetGalley
About: Meet Nora. Also known as Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie and Ashley – the girls she’s been.
Nora didn’t choose a life of deception – she was born into it. As the daughter of a con artist who targeted criminal men, Nora always had to play a part. But when her mother fell for one of the men instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con herself: escape.
For five years Nora’s been playing at normal – but things are far from it when she finds herself held at gunpoint in the middle of a bank heist, along with Wes (her ex-boyfriend) and Iris (her secret new girlfriend and mutual friend of Wes … awkward). Now it will take all of Nora’s con artistry skills to get them out alive.
Because the gunmen have no idea who she really is – that girl has been in hiding for far too long …

This book is everything I wanted in a contemporary thriller read. It’s written in a way that makes it destined to be a hit when adapted for the screen later this year.

What I loved most of all was the almost dejavu feeling of familiarity I got from falling into the narrative. Not in a rip-off way, but that comfortable, I’m in safe hands, sort of way. It took me a day or to afterwards to pin point what it was. I’d recently watched the episode Monday of X-Files. The only connection really being that they’re were both set in a bank during a robbery. However, I would argue that it’s testament to Sharpe’s writing that I connect the book to one of the best episodes of a much loved show.

The characters are amazing and I must emphasise that I adore the introduction of a character with endometritis and the commentary of periods. It’s subtle and yet incredibly powerful. It also doesn’t feel forced or plot driven, it’s simply something the reader is left to consider, empathise or, in some cases, relate. It’s strange to say ‘representation’, however while so many women are being ignored when it comes to diagnosing this condition, having it presented as a condition that should be taken seriously is validity that a lot of women will appreciate. I do also occasionally wonder how many women will seek a diagnosis because of this book.

What I truly loved was that it works as a stand alone novel. I feel satisfied. However, if a sequel were to emerge I’d be happy.
One things for certain; between this and Evolution of Clare, Sharpe is a writer I will automatically read from now on.

Book Review: The Infinity Files

Author S. M. Wilson
Length  416 pages
Release 4.3.2021
Ash Yang dreamed of being a starfighter pilot. But when she crashes out of her final test – literally – she somehow lands the most powerful job in the universe. As Guardian of the Infinity Files she must secretly planet-hop through the galaxies, stealing or returning treasures that have the power to stop wars…or start them.

But when her home planet is the one at war, can she get the job done?


Ash and Orius are two very different characters that dominate the pages. Ash is our protagonist, our eyes into this world and don’t be too alarmed if you feel very invested in her from the outset. There’s something about those first few chapters that will allow Ash to trigger all of your emotions. There’ll be so much about her that you will see in yourself. I certainly found that empowering and I’ll be surprised if others don’t either.

Orius on the other hand is all mystery and something that I loved and hated in equal measure. Orius is someone I do not think you’re meant to figure out and I love that we’re never get anything more than what Ash knows.


This universe is awesome. As a child of Star Trek, Stargate, Doctor Who and Quantum Leap this story is all the best bits of the franchises and so much more. For a first outing of a series, it’s sometimes difficult to create a full story that doesn’t feel like world building or exposition. At no point does this feel like that. You are thrown into the adventure, with a thread of mystery running alongside. Its perfect.


Wilson’s writing makes her reads a comfort. I feel like I am reading a book made of Doctor Who’s Psychic Paper whenever I fall into her worlds. The way characters, action and reveals are dealt with reminds me of Michael Crichton’s work. It reads to me like it would be a dream to translate into film.

Final Thoughts

Its an amazing read and I cannot wait for more.

Infinity Files Blog Tour Q&A with S. M. Wilson

As we meet Ash, she is faced with ‘failing’ at the academy. It’s not something readers will be used to and is a big fear for those who tend to read YA fiction. Why was it important to have the protagonist experience failure so early on?

Failing was the whole motivation for the start of the story.  Ash had strived for this for so long, she’d thought that once she’d achieved her goal, she it would solve her problems and help how she felt.  As a young woman she was determined to wreak revenge on those who’d stolen her family from her.  But once she didn’t achieve her goal?  Well, it put her in exactly the position I needed her to be in for this story.  The reason she failed was important too.  She acted on her instincts.  And Ash’s instincts were good. That’s why she was chosen for the next role in the book!

Being a massive sci-fi geek myself, I loved how much this book read like a love-letter to those shows many of us will have grown up with. Which shows inspired you the most?

Where do you want me to start?  I’m a huge Star Wars fan (except the first three – they don’t count).  I also love Star Trek. Next Generation is my favourite.  I also loved Battlestar Galactica, the original series and the 2004 series alongside Stargate, the film and SG1 and Stargate Atlantis, and The Mandalorian.  As a kid I even loved Buck Rogers, and the Flash Gordon film, V (which was terrifying).  Finally, there’s ET.  I have a son called Elliott, enough said really!

The theme of isolation perhaps hit harder than it may have any other year. Was that struggle something you felt was important to thread through the story and were there any benefits of it not being about current events?

Ash’s aloneness was a key part of her character development, along with concept of ‘found family’.  It carries on into the second book too.  As a nurse, I’ve been at the heart of the coronavirus epidemic since the start, so for me, an escape is very welcome.  Space was definitely my escape, though there will always be elements of real life that bleed into anything that I write. 

If you had to create your own team of five Guardians from any Sci-fi franchise (you can mix and match), who would you choose and why?

You are literally asking me to choose between my children and that is exceptionally mean.  First and foremost, Captain Picard will always in my team.  I love how he always pretended to obey the Prime Directive but never actually did.  First Contact will always be my favourite film with the emotional damage the borg did to him revived.  With him in my team, I also need the character of Hugh from the borg collective.  I adored that character and loved they brought his fully formed version back in the Picard series.  Next, is my Star Wars favourites. Since Yoda has sneaked into both Extinction Trials and The Infinity Files it really should be him.  But instead, I’m picking Obi-wan Kenobi.  (The Alec Guinness version and not the Ewan McGregor version), alongside kickass Princess Leia.  Carrie Fisher brought such fire to the character and I loved the spark that was there. I suspect Picard and Obi-Wan might get a bit snotty with each other, but Princess Leia will kick them both to the kerb and keep them inline.  Whilst my childhood heart still hankers after Dirk Benedict as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, or fabulous Q from the Next Generation, I have to pick ET as my final team member.  Sure, he may not be very mobile, but I can carry him.  And he has a magic finger.  What more do I need?

Blog Tour: Pieces of Ourselves by Maggie Harcourt

Author: Maggie Harcourt
Publisher: Usborne
Pages: 448
Book Birthday: 2.4.2020
About: Flora “doesn’t do people”, not since the Incident that led to her leaving school midway through her GCSEs. The Incident that led to her being diagnosed with bipolar II. The Incident that left her in pieces.
Until Hal arrives. He’s researching a story about a missing World War I soldier, and he wants Flora’s help. Flora used to love history before the Incident, but spending so much time with Hal is her worst nightmare.
Yet as they begin to piece together the life of the missing soldier, a life of lost love, secrets and lies, Flora finds a piece of herself falling for Hal.



Flora is a beautiful and flawed character who took my heart when I first read the sampler last summer. There’s a familiar quality and personality that I identify with as I progressed through the story. She is supported by an incredible team of characters that build up such a charming countryside community and family.
Hal is everything you want in a leading man. He took my breath away in much the same way Mr Darcy does for others. It’s fair to say he is the character that brings us part of the plot, but it is his chemistry with Flora that makes their journey so compelling.


The story reminds me of one of my favourite mystery tv shows by Hallmark: Signed, Sealed, Delivered. A show that never fails to leave me uplifted and that’s without the added charm of Britishness. In Pieces of Me, Flora is tasked with helping Hal locate and identify the people involved in a story he was told by his Grandfather.
As the two unpack boxes and take time for further research, a clandestine romance unfolds in the letters they find. The progression within the letters means very different things to the people invested and Flora and Hal find themselves drawn to each other in the process.


Harcourt’s writing has and ease and a charm that soothes in a way that a good cup of tea does. It gives you that pause from your life, warms your soul and gives you that does of sweetness you often need.

Final Thoughts

This was everything I needed in a book and at time that I needed it. While we spend so much time inside, there’s nothing better than a book set in the countryside.

Blog Tour Review: Devil Darling Spy by Matt Killeen


Sarah and the Captain are given time to really show us how they’ve been changed from the events of Orphan Monster Spy. Not only do we see individual development, but there’s plenty of evolution to the dynamic of the relationship of the pair.

What I enjoyed most about this story, was Sarah’s narrative about her growing up. It makes an interesting change to have a character of her age express something other that a wish to grow up. While it may appear like fear on the service, it very quickly becomes clear that it’s a lot more complex than that. It also makes for a very interesting dynamic between Sarah and several other female characters that appear. 


The plot centres around a new mission for the Captain and Sarah. One that reads well as a stand alone but, much like a good cheese and wine, is complimented and added to with its previous instalment: Orphan, Monster, Spy.
Our familiar characters are sent to Africa in order to seize what is believed to be a new weapon that’s come about from experiments of germ warfare. Along the way, we meet rogues, traitors and people who aren’t all what they seem.

You won’t get a second to breath as this high-speed thriller brings you to a part of the war that you may not be familiar with. There’s nothing better than a book with a message and a lesson in history.


I love Killeen’s narrative. His way with words is incredible and is able to pull me so far in I feel like I’m wearing VR and actually taking a role in the unfolding story. Despite being written in the first person, Sarah’s emotions leap off the page. It’s crafted, its fiction that’s rooted in a challenging history that only Killeen could make work.
It’s a writing style I would love to have many books to read. Equally, he could make me wait longer than J RR Martin and I’d still be grateful of anything that comes my way.

Devil Darling Spy is out 5th March

Devil Darling Spy Blog Tour Q&A with Matt Killeen

You made it very clear about the dates throughout the book and there are many years in which the war continues. Are there plans to continue Sarah’s story beyond the two novels?

Sarah certainly has more missions ahead of her, and you’re right, there are five more years of the war to go…assuming she can survive that long. I have many ideas and some clear thoughts about where she might end up. Also, finding something she can realistically influence is important…but there’s a very stark delineation between things that live in my head and what publishing may or may not share with the world. Sarah may find herself kicking her heels for a while.

Are there any difficulties to rooting a story in history? On the flip side, what are the rewards?

It is certainly swings and roundabouts. I always say that “history delivers”. Almost every piece of research provides something astounding that I can use to further the narrative. I imagined a Nazi boarding school, and lo, there they were the Napola Schools. I also like the framework that real events provide and the craft of winding your narrative between the real bits, so you can tell several stories at once. But assuming that you’re writing fiction, you are on some level simultaneously proposing an alternative history – even narrative non-fiction works demand a little guesswork and elaboration. That’s a responsibility too. What’s hard is that these events – including the death, atrocity and horror – happened to real people. You owe them, to tell their story, or the story of which they were a part, with some authenticity – either by fact or emotional truth. That’s an abstract concept if you’re talking about Ancient Rome, but WW2 is well-documented. There’s a lot of faces looking back at you. I’d argue for the necessity of forging a compelling narrative as a vehicle to discuss and highlight important issues – “history must be burned into the imagination before it can accepted by the reason” Lord Macaulay said, I think – but there’s a line, somewhere along the way, where you pass into exploitation, prurience and tastelessness. That moment isn’t always clear and obvious. This is particularly apparent when you talk about the Holocaust. Writing Devil Darling Spy, I’m dealing with colonialism and imperialism – that exploitation continues in one form or another and real responsibility for the horror has not been taken by the perpetrators. This is raw and ongoing. That makes all this harder to do right and there’s a reasonable argument that I shouldn’t even be trying. But I couldn’t walk away from the chance to put these events front and centre of people’s minds.

Both Orphan Monster Spy and Devil Darling Spy are empowering to readers today. What other books have you discovered since the release of Orphan Monster Spy that you feel demonstrate the same empowering theme?

​Well I’m glad to hear people find them empowering…certainly that would be my hope, but Sarah kind of does her own thing. As my editor once put it, “Sarah does not always model good behaviour.” I was just thinking about the moment she saves the Captain on the dock in Friedrichshafen in Orphan Monster Spy. That was Sarah’s decision. She wasn’t going to be saved, or even save herself. That’s the moment I understood her, when I really knew who she was. I know some writers hate this idea, that characters could or should make decisions, but that’s how it is for me.

There have been some excellent, nuanced female characters of late – well-written women and girls rather than the “kick-ass” archetype – like Wing Jones, Tulip Taylor, Izzy O’Neill,  and I’m a sucker for the profoundly flawed, like Bevan from Other Words for Smoke. Then there’s Amani from Alwyn’s Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands Trilogy which I finished since Orphan was released…they feel related, which shouldn’t surprise as many of the people who chose Amani’s story for publication, also chose Sarah’s.

I make no apologies for the graphic novel reference – because comics are reading – but of everything I’ve read lately, I’m finding the Lumberjanes comics to be the most invigorating, joyful fiction. All female and diverse ensemble cast of wonderful characters having funny, smart and rollicking adventures at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. I feel empowered, I can only imagine the power of these characters for young teenagers. One of its creators is the showrunner on the new She-Ra series, which is happily consuming me right now. In fact, I’m wearing a She-Ra t-shirt as I’m typing this…and I hated the old show for the exploitative, unreconstructed toy commercial it was.

Do you listen to any particular music while writing?

Music is very important to me, but I need a very specific kind of music to write to. It usually can’t have words or be too up-tempo, and guitar-based stuff is too intrusive. It has to allow a certain detachment, but can’t be drivel either – something that I can lost in, but doesn’t dominate my brain. Soundtracks don’t always do this and not all classical music hits the spot, but I think what works best is called New Classical or Neo-classical or something equally dismal. A Winged Victory for the Sullen is the best example. There are certain pieces or albums that are absolutely tied into my work, both as inspiration and as soundtrack to the action. Agnes Obel and Kathryn Joseph are rare examples of vocalists that I work to, as they’re all quiet pianos, pain and anguish. So I have an evolving and ever-growing playlist of this stuff, and when it goes on, I’m ready.

For more general, around the writing work, I listen to BBC 6Music but I really don’t like the schedule changes they made about a year ago. After nearly 10 years of working at home and hearing the same voices every day, losing them for something less than was a bit heartbreaking. I’m still grieving. I’ve found Spotify really good, it came with my new phone, but I have severe reservations about its morality. They don’t pay their artists much of anything.

Devil Darling Spy is out 5th March

Check out my next post for my review x

Blog Tour Review: Highfire by Eoin Colfer

‘A joyous fantasy for grownups’ Guardian 

‘A funny, offbeat adult fantasy novel’ Independent

‘A dazzling first adult novel from bestselling children’s author Colfer’ Daily Mail

Highfire is a genre-bending tour-de-force of comedy and action by the million-copy-selling master storyteller.

Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way – like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him . . .

An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke’s unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy’s reputation.

Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou – and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp . . . 

For Squib Moreau, Regence Hooke and Vern, aka Lord Highfire of Highfire Eyrie, life is never going to be the same again.

‘Told in crunchy prose, with lashings of earthy dialogue, it reads like an Elmore Leonard Thriller, but with dragons . . . Colfer clearly had a blast writing this, and his sheer storytelling panache brushes aside the quibbles of fantasy-genre agnostics with infectious glee’ Mail on Sunday

From the internationally bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series: Eoin Colfer’s first adult fantasy novel is a hilarious, high-octane adventure about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who’s been hiding out from the world – and potential torch-carrying mobs – in a Louisiana bayou . . . until his peaceful world’s turned upside down by a well-intentioned but wild Cajun tearaway and the crooked (and heavily armed) law officer who wants him dead.

What a glorious read from the amazing mind of Eoin Colfer. Vern is the last living dragon and reads like a character created for David Harbour to play. He’s gruff and closed off, and that’s the way he likes it. That is, of course, until Squib comes hurtling into his life, bringing with him chaos and danger.

It’s a well written, funny book that doesn’t hold back in the slightest. You can clearly see from how this book is crafted, why Colfer wrote another instalment in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s series. Colfer embodies Adams’ charm and wit and brings it to the 21st century.

This book is a perfect stand alone but I would love to see a sequel. Many sequels. Hell, if Eoin Colfer wants to throw out seven or eight tales of Vern and Squib, I’ll be there waiting for the publishing date of each one.

Han x

Book Review: A Throne of Swans by Katherine & Elizabeth Corr

Publishers Hot Keys

Pages 352

Book birthday 9.1.2020

Came to me direct from the publishers for an honest review

About When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn’s ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother – ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors.

With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.

Written in rich detail and evocative language, this is the start of an irresistible, soaring duology about courage, broken loyalties and fighting for your place in the world.


  • There isn’t a single character I don’t love in this book. There’s other feelings, obviously, but each one feels so necessary to the plot that you will love them as ensemble. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way before. I’ve either forgotten characters, or felt they were there simply to fulfil a need in the plot.
  • There is of course two I love beyond anything else and those are Aderyn, our protagonist, and Lucien, her clerk. Aderyn is someone I identify with and I feel many will do the same. Her relationship with her parents and the society she’s been protect from might be grander than we may experience, but the emotions are certainly something a reader will empathise with. She’s everything you want in a protagonist. What I love most is how flawed she is and how much she grows throughout the book.
  • Lucien! Oh, beautiful Lucien. I really did love how the Corr sisters managed to get across his feelings while Aderyn seems to not acknowledge them.


  • It’s a retelling of the classic Swan Lake. Something I had known but completely forgotten by the time I came to read this beautiful book. I am unable to comment upon its comparative narrative, however I will say that as someone with no knowledge of the original source I found this to be a compelling story of fear, trust and politics. I was hooked from the first page and never lost me the way some reworking do. If anything, I feel this book will bring a new generation of fans to the classic story and the ballet that is its most famous platform to explore.
  • There are many plot threads at work and it almost has that episodic charm that I’ve come to associate with Harry Potter. Only here, the threads are a little more interwoven and by no means contained to one chapter; ensuring any reader will be whispering ‘just one more chapter’ until they reach the back cover.
  • Please have your book grieving routine at the read, this is the first in what I believe is a duology and believe me, you’re going to be left on tenterhooks until that second instalment comes out. It’s a perfect way to end as it will prompt conversation between readers and will have those inclined, heading to fan fiction for predictions in the months we’ll all be waiting.


  • I love reading in first person for this sort of book. The atmosphere is built on the distrust and fear and you most definitely feel it here as it restricts your view of the social standing within the castle Aderyn spends much of the book.
  • I sometimes struggle with fantasy books. Not to do with the content, but the language and perspective used almost slows my reading down and I lose the flow. It’s simply not the case here. The Corr sisters have built not only a world but a complex politically charged society that a reader will fall into and fall in love with.

Final Thoughts

I loved this book, I’m grateful for the book arriving when it did and charming me like a feisty fairytale I have always wanted.

The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel Book Review

Author Amy Beashel

Publisher Rock the Boat

Pages 304

Book birthday 6.2.2020

About No one has ever asked Izzy what she wants. She’s about to change all that…

In a house adept at sweeping problems under the carpet, Izzy’s life is falling apart. Her best friend Grace has abandoned her. Jacob has photos of her, photos he should never have got hold of, and he’s threatening to leak them. Then there’s her stepdad. Her controlling, acidic stepdad, who makes her mum shrink and her stomach churn whenever he enters the room.

It’s hard to know your worth when people shout you down.

But Izzy isn’t going to be silenced anymore. She has a voice, and once she finds it, there’s no stopping her. And if the sky is the limit, then the sky is hers.

For fans of Sara Barnard, Louise O’Neill and E. Lockhart, The Sky is Mine is a powerful exploration of domestic abuse, rape culture and consent, and a call to young women to discover the power of their own voice.

Got it how? I received this direct from Rock the Boat for an honest review


Izzy is a girl everyone knows. You’ve either heard the rumours, shared the rumours, supported the girl through it all or you may even have been Izzy yourself. Relating with her isn’t important for this book, but believing her and trusting her is. She has a strong voice, even during her weak moments and I’d like to think it will allow some to empathise with what she goes through.

The characters around her vary in what we get to know, which reflects so much of social circles in life. There are characters you’ll meet at the beginning that you suspect will play more of a role that take a back seat. I adored that about this book as it added that extra level of reality and emotion to the narrative.

How Izzy’s mum and step father are written you are aware that Izzy’s emotions do give a bias to their characters. However, that is the nature of a first person narrative and doesn’t stop it being true and their descriptions are balanced by other people’s opinions of them. Personally, I found that the most interesting, especially when considering the step-father and his public and private personas.


The plot was one of the best contemporary I’ve read in a long while. It’s actually a story I feel should be given to every single adult working in education as CPD and every student in high school to teach empathy and the impact of individual’s actions.

Without revealing too much of the plot, it’s something that cannot be predicted and will surprise you on every turn. Be sure to make a sizeable chuck of time in your day because once you start, you will not put it down.


As I mentioned before, this book is written in the first person with an incredibly strong, and at times angry, voice. Even at times when Izzy is in fear or is voicing her doubts, you can feel her frustration and almost an internal encouragement to take no more

Final Thoughts

This book holds within its pages such an important story that everyone needs to read. It’s the first time this year that a book has made me miss teaching; it’s the sort of book that would have a waiting list in my personal lending library.

Love Han x

Blog Tour: My Secret Lies With You’s Faye Bird shares her favourite mysteries

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

A genuinely intriguing book with an entirely punchy style – we don’t feel a pervasive darkness here, as is often the case with mysteries. What hooks us in is the voice of main character Miranda and a desire to find out the truth of the strange happenings around her. And there are plenty of those. The book is full of surprise and oddity, but Rebecca Stead’s pithy, sharp, upbeat tone pulls us along with wonderfully short hooky chapters so that nothing about this book feels too contrived or drawn out. The plot feels complex enough to make the reader work, but the narrative style so compelling that you find yourself simply being happily taken along for the ride. You wait for everything to be laid out for you at the end, and you aren’t disappointed. There are some beautifully economic, well-judged descriptions – Miranda’s Mum’s boyfriend Richard is described as “…the way I picture guys on sailboats – tall, blond and very tucked in, even on weekends.” Brilliant. There’s a lovely description, which we return to, about seeing the world. Miranda’s mum says we all see it as if from under a veil. If we take off the veil and peek out we “…see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love.” Miranda goes on to explain that her Mum uses this not to explain God or angels or magic but rather that “…most of the time people get distracted by little stuff and ignore the big stuff.” This is how we survive. The New York setting sits perfectly with the tone, and once you read the book you won’t be surprised to learn that Rebecca Stead has talked openly about her huge debt in writing this novel to Madeleine Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. When You Reach Me is a quirky upbeat novel that beautifully encapsulates the quote at the start: “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.” Albert Einstein, The World As I See It (1931). If you haven’t read it already, then certainly a recommendation from me.

Book Tour: Blast Off to the Moon

Publisher: UCLAN publishing

Pages: 40

About: From Imagination to Reality. Produced in association with BIS (British Interplanetary Society) and NASA.

Based on the original NASA Press Kit (Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission) this is full of exclusive never before seen content from the BIS archives. Including an introduction written by Helen Sherman, the first woman to visit the Mir Space Station!

Capturing the excitement of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, how it happened, why it happened, what the team discovered and what followed on Earth. This is an accessible book for children that will inspire and encourage a love of learning about science and space.

Euan Cook – Cover Illustration

Buy it from Waterstones

Q & A with Imogen Tomlinson, part of the UCLAN part of the team who developed this amazing title.

Which chapter/section was your favourite to work on?

‘What if things went wrong?’ was fascinating – macabre, I know, but it really brought home how much courage the astronauts had to take part in such a risky mission.

I also enjoyed writing ‘The World Holds its Breath’. This includes a transcription of the Mission Control audio from the Apollo 11 countdown, which we put in the book as we wanted the reader to experience the excitement of mission countdown. I listened to a lot of recordings between Mission Control and the Apollo 11 astronauts as part of my research – they are available on the NASA website. They provide a fascinating insight into the day-to-day running of the mission, and the respect and trust the crews on Earth and in space had for each other is evident. There are also frequent jokes between the crews. The lead up to Neil Armstrong’s famous “That’s one small step for [a] man” line is surprisingly casual!


How important was it to have Helen Sharman write the introduction? 

Massively so. As the first British person in space, Helen is a huge inspiration. Having her blessing on the project gave us – and future readers – the confidence to know that we were going in the right direction and creating a quality product. She also very kindly helped with fact checking – her first-hand knowledge of life in space was invaluable.


What would you hope a reader takes away with them when reading Blast Off to the Moon?

How risky and experimental the Apollo programme was. Despite the astronauts undergoing months of extensive training, the whole enterprise was essentially trial and error – no one knew for certain what would happen when – or if – they got to the Moon. The Space Race had already claimed several lives – from Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee (the Apollo 1 astronauts), to Soviet cosmonauts such as Vladimir Komarov. There was the very real possibility that Neil Armstrong, Buz Aldrin and Michael Collins would also be killed. Finding the contingency plan and speech (featured in the book) prepared for President Nixon in the event of a disaster really emphasised how dangerous the mission was. What must have gone through the astronaut’s heads in the days leading up to blast off? How did they explain to their children that they might never see them again? Their bravery and belief in the mission is clear and something to be admired.


What was the strangest or most interesting fact you have discovered during your research?

The Moon has lots of interesting facts! I did not realise, before working on the book, how important the Moon is to Earth’s functions. For instance, the Moon’s gravitational force is responsible for Earth’s tides and maintaining the stable environment needed for life.

I found a lot of interesting facts relating to Cold War politics, as this was the driving factor behind the Apollo programme, though we stayed away from discussing them in the book. For instance, the USA once planned to nuke the Moon in a display of power. Imagine how disastrous this would have been!


If you were going into space, what would want to have for your breakfast before having to live off onboard food?

Toasted hot cross buns with a fruit salad and a glass of Buck’s fizz to celebrate!


This book is something I’ve dipped in and out of multiple times over the last few weeks; from reading it for cover to cover, to returning to my favourite sections (the food, it’s always about food).

This will be one of those books that grows with a young reader. As a little one, it may just be those never before seen photos that capture their imagination but when they’re older the words will start to form meaning and shape their understanding of the satellite in our orbit.

The book is well structured and will be useful as a reference guide for STEM students or those who seek role models who blazed a trail for any of us wanting to reach for the stars.

Book Review: Literary Trails: Haworth and the Brontes

Authors: David F Walford & Catherine Rayner
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Pages: 274

This book is perfect for anyone who loves to holiday abroad and keep on their feet. It’s rich in history and will provide the perfect guide to the town that homes the famous Bronte sisters.

It opens with a number of introductory chapters, including one that gives a little more detail about the Brontes and one that gives you a basic guide to walking safely. Something like this will be perfect for those new to rambling and walking tours in rural locations.

The bulk of the book is a treasure trove of walking tours, written in a way that even someone like me can follow without fault. I almost want an audio book of each chapter to complete the walk. Each walk is complete with a map of the location, photos and OS co-ordinates. This would be perfect for any family wanting to develop their map reading skills and children’s understanding of OS co-ordinates ensuring they have fun and develop skills that will be valuable for those who take Geography for GCSE.