Review: Herman Needs A Home, by Lucy Nogura


Herman Needs A Home

A little crab’s each for a shell to call home.

When Herman the hermit crab gets too big for his shell, he can’t find a new one that feels just right. With his sister, Hiro, he travels up and down the beach in search of a shell he can call home.

They don’t find a shell, but they do find something else – a pile of rubbish left behind on the sand. But can Herman make a home out of any of it?

My Review

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book and to Love Books Tours for organising this tour. I received a lovely parcel from Lucy Noguera.

Herman and his sister Hiro need new shells, so their family line up and swap shells. Unfortunately, Herman is bigger than any of the others and needs to find a new shell. Hiro and Herman go for a walk on the beach to fins a new shell. Instead they find a large pile of rubbish. Nothing fits right, of course but as night falls, Herman hides in a broken tennis ball. The next day he goes on an unexpected trip.

I reviewed another book by Lucy Noguera last year, SWOP the satsuma sized secret, and really enjoyed it. That came in a lovely parcel, too. This book is for younger children and is beautifully illustrated by Emma Latham. As with SWOP, there is a lesson for young readers. In this case, it’s about the damage rubbish can cause to sealife and ends with a page about how to look after the coast by clearing up rubbish.

The illustrations are lovely, bright and colourful. The paper is high quality, dense and solid, so it’ll last a good long time. The writing is fun and bouncy, and I suggest it’ll be good reading for both parents and children.

I generally send these books to my cousin’s kids, and I’m looking forward to hearing what they think of this one. I think they’ll love it.

Review: Fantasy Short Stories, by Suzanne Rogerson

Fantasy Short Stories

A collection of stories featuring favourite characters from Visions of Zarua and ‘Silent Sea Chronicles’, plus a glimpse into the new series, ‘Starlight Prophecy’.

The Guardian

With an assassin picking off wizards one-by-one, Kalesh visits Cassima, a former student, hoping to persuade her to re-join the Royal Wizards and use their protection to keep her family safe.

Kalesh’s newest charge, Paddren, has strange visions which link to a past event known only to a select few. The knowledge hidden in Paddren’s visions is invaluable so Kalesh must guard the boy at any cost.

Can Kalesh keep his students off the assassin’s radar long enough for his order to stop the killer?

Garrick the Protector

Fifteen-year-old Garrick is helping at his uncle’s farm when his cousin’s illegal use of magic threatens the family’s safety.

Mara is in immediate danger from the Assembly who deem all magic as a threat. The only safe place for her is the Turrak Mountains where exiled mystics have found sanctuary alongside the island’s Sentinel.

Can Garrick get Mara to safety before the Assembly catch up with them?

War Wounds

Conscripted to fight off raiders, Calder finds the months of bloody battle unleash a sixth sense buried inside him.

Finally released from duty, he travels home and encounters a mysterious woman who insists his life is destined to serve a higher purpose. Calder rejects her claims, wanting only to return to a simple existence with his wife.

But can Calder pick up his old life when the powers within him have been stirred? And why does he feel such misgivings about his return?

All three stories give readers a tantalising glimpse into the fantasy worlds created by Suzanne Rogerson.

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Extract from ‘The Hostage of Rome’, by Robert M. Kidd – Giveaway!

The Hostage of Rome

217 BC. Rome has been savaged, beaten and is in retreat. Yet, in that winter of winters, her garrisons cling on behind the walls of Placentia and Cremona, thanks to her sea-born supplies. If he could be freed, a hostage of Rome may yet hold the key to launching a fleet of pirates that could sweep Rome from the seas. For that hostage is none other than Corinna’s son Cleon, rival heir to the throne of Illyria, held in Brundisium, four hundred miles south of the Rubicon.

But Hannibal is set on a greater prize! Macedon is the great power in Greece, feared even by Rome. Its young king, Philip, is being compared with his illustrious ancestor, Alexander the Great. An alliance with Macedon would surely sound the death knell for Rome.  

Given Hannibal’s blessing, Sphax, Idwal and Corinna face an epic journey against impossible odds. Navigating the length of the Padus, past legionary garrisons and hostile Gauls, they must then risk the perils of the storm-torn Adria in the depths of the winter. If the gods favour them and they reach the lands of the pirate queen, only then will their real trials begin.

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Book Promo – OUT NOW – Herman Needs A Home, by Lucy Noguera


Herman Needs A Home

A little crab’s each for a shell to call home.

When Herman the hermit crab gets too big for his shell, he can’t find a new one that feels just right. With his sister, Hiro, he travels up and down the beach in search of a shell he can call home.

They don’t find a shell, but they do find something else – a pile of rubbish left behind on the sand. But can Herman make a home out of any of it?

 Buy Link

Review: Brazen, by Julia Haart

My Review

Thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for organising this blog tour and to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

I found this book fascinating and shocking. The author writes with candour about her struggles, life within the closed community of fundamentalist Judaism her parents adopted, and her journey to freedom. She is not afraid to call out the hypocrisy of fundamental religions and their followers, and identifies the mechanisms of control that permeate them. Her anger is clear and makes it’s appearance several times as she discusses the abuses in her former community, as well as the ways people take advantage of those who escape controlling groups. She trusted people who she thought were good people only to discover that they were cheats and liars. Help from good people, who understood that getting everything is writing and having contracts is the only way to go in business, got her into a better position and eventually her hard work and creative flare saved her business and freed her family.

The author correctly identifies that women are often used to reinforce their own oppression in these groups; teaching the ‘laws’ to the next generation after a lifetime of indoctrination and abuse, by means of indoctrination and abuse, because they’ve been told it’ll make them holy. Since they can’t be holy or good just by being a decent human, only men can be that. Social pressure, gossip and ostracism are tools used to control women by other women; once the system is set up and in place for a couple of generation, the men no longer have to actively police it, they merely passively benefit from it and never question the problem. In some fundamentalist communities, young men are also thrown out and the stories of their struggles to adapt to a world they haven’t been prepared for are used as lessons to keep others in line.

I would be interested to know how she brought her children and ex-husband away from fundamentalism, as he’s now a Modern Orthodox Jew and the children are all in higher education. The denial of education to children and forcing adults into pre-defined roles based on genitalia are major problems in all fundamentalist religious groups, unfortunately.

Haart’s devotion to her children shines through and she is at pains to make it clear that every risk she took was to give them better lives away where they wouldn’t be forced into early marriage or denied an education.

It doesn’t matter which particular prophet they follow, when your god is a psychopath and his priests can get away with manipulating the people, you’re going to get abuse. Fear of being called a bigot often prevents authorities from intervening where they can, such as in the unregulated and unregistered schools children of fundamentalist parents are often sent to, and to ‘schools with a religious ethos’ in the UK. Just because the parents are *insert religion or denomination here* doesn’t mean the children should be subjected to ignorant, outdated ideas and denied an education. And the ‘God/Allah/YHWH/Jehovah says so’ excuse is lazy and stupid. No, a bunch of old men wrote a load of myths and rules about how to live safely at different times over a thousand years and in different cultural contexts and now you’re trying to force that crap on children living in totally different cultural contexts, in a world with more knowledge available than ever before. You want to believe the myths, go ahead, but you don’t get to force that on other people. Can you tell I have little time for the god of Abraham, and a lot of time for his victims? My Gran would be so upset if she read this.

Back to the book

I found the writing spirited and easy to read. It is a heartfelt plea against fundamentalism and a demand for freedom. I found the descriptions of her creative process and the difficulties of starting a business gripping, while her life in her former community and her travels are fascinatingly told. The details of lives usually hidden from the wider world are enough to give anyone pause, and her discussion of her mental health struggles as she fought to escape and then to build a business are compassionate to herself and others. I’m still surprised at how much compassion she has for her ex-husband, given his behaviour, and that she still has a belief in a higher power, but everyone is different.

I didn’t particularly enjoy reading about Haart’s post-separation sexual adventures, but that’s just me. Some people might be interested. I found some of the phrasing repetitive. There’s only so many times I can read that returning to Monsey was like returning to jail for her, or that she doesn’t let people take advantage of her now. And it felt like it finished a bit abruptly.

In summary

A worthwhile memoir, and peak into the behind the scenes life of a fashion designer.

About the Author

Julia Haart is the star of the Netflix docuseries My Unorthodox Life.

She is the CEO, co-owner and chief creative officer of Elite World Group, the world’s first talent media agency, which is comprised of 48 global agencies representing the most dynamic and culturally connected talent in the world.

She was previously the creative director of La Perla, the luxury Italian intimates brand, and launched her career as a designer with her namesake shoe collection.

Julia lives in Manhattan.

Instagram: @juliahaart.

Review: The Emergent, by Nadia Afifi

Fiction: FICTION / Science Fiction /
Genetic Engineering
Product format: Paperback
Price: £12.95; $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-78758-666-6
Pages: 320 pp


Amira Valdez’s adventures continue in the sequel to The Sentient,as she
finds herself in unprecedented danger. The ruthless new leader of the
fundamentalist Trinity Compound seeks to understand his strange
neurological connection with Amira and unleash an army on an unstable
North America. The first human clone has been born, but thanks to the
mysterious scientist Tony Barlow, it may unlock the secret to human
immortality– or disaster. Together, Amira and Barlow form an uneasy alliance in pursuit of scientific breakthroughs and protection from shared enemies.

But new discoveries uncover dark secrets that Barlow wants to keep hidden.

My Review

Thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for organising this blog tour, and to Flame Tree Press for sending me a copy of the book.

Oh my goodness me! I just finished reading this novel (28th May 2022), I read the remaining 250 pages of this 310 page book today after getting started on it earlier in the week but being too exhausted to read for most of the week. I think I read most of it in about 4 hours, which is about normal for me. It was a real page-turner, though, because once I got settled with food and fluids, I didn’t move until I finished reading it.

Amira and friends return some months after the end of The Sentient, the first book in this series. After being cleared by Westport Police of any crimes, Amira has been tagged by the Aldwych Council to prevent her escaping before they could bring her to trial. The opening is tense and moving as Amira deals with her fears about what would happen if she was found guilty on spurious charges. She copes by getting drunk the night before her trial and hiding in an ancient vertical farm. Found and returned to civilisation by her friends D’Arcy and Julian, she finds she has more friends than she thought, or at least people who need her for things, including Dr Barlow. Amira also gets a boyfriend, despite her fears and internalised guilt.

What follows is a rollicking adventure that bounces from calm to tension to explosions and back again several times before an ending that is totally unexpected. There are several gun and ship battles, and once again Amira goes into space and has to do some high level clambering around buildings.

The plot was gripping and I liked the character development of Amira as she realises that she can be someone other than the ‘compound girl come good’ through seeing the manipulation of power players in the city. We learn more about the history of the Pandora project and the Cosmics, and see more of the world post-Cataclysm. There’s an eight year period which demands it’s own novel, from Lee, D’Arcy, Maxine or Hadrian’s POV.

There were some minor typographical errors, couldn’t tell if the author meant to use ‘commandeered’ when ‘commanded’ would make more sense. I can see why, in the context, it would sometimes be appropriate, but not always and it could be a mistake.