Posts Tagged ‘book launch’

Blog Tour: Echoes In The Glass

We are delighted to welcome Cheri Lasota as she shares some of her favourite quotes from her newly released contemporary romance, Echoes In The Glass.

echoesFinnian bears the scar of an unspeakable crime.
McKenna hides the pain of a terrible betrayal. 
When all their secrets are laid bare, will the truth rip them apart or forever silence the echoes of the past?

Seventeen-year-old Finnian Bell has been on the run for years, but he finally has a chance to rebuild his life while restoring an abandoned lighthouse on the Oregon Coast.  

McKenna Lucas, the lightkeeper’s daughter, is still reeling from the pain of an event that has shattered her innocence. Fear and bitterness have turned her heart from Finnian, but he is determined not to let her go.

The lighthouse harbors dark secrets of its own…When Finnian and McKenna uncover the story of two teens hidden in the tower back in 1934, they discover a shocking connection that bridges time and death.

Favorite Quotes.

Quote 3: They stayed that way.
Without moving or breathing. A moment when there was no world outside the space between them. He felt wrapped around and within her in a place of beginning and forgetting.

To me, this is what love feels like. The whole world can just fade away and all you see is the one who loves you. With this line, I desperately wanted to capture just a glimpse of what that feels like for my main character, Finnian Bell. He has come through so much to get to this moment in his journey. Most of my beta readers have shed some tears at this point in the story, knowing everything these two characters have been through.

Quote 4: He let go and rubbed his chest, where the gaping hole of grief that had filled his waking hours was both filling and emptying at the same time.

This is probably not the most eloquent of lines, but it was my feeble attempt to capture what was going through Finnian’s mind at the most heartbreaking moment in this novel. I had tears streaming down my face as I wrote it because, at the time, I knew exactly what he feels like as he learns the truth about the two people he loves most: one was an answer to his prayers and the other the revelation of a terrible crime. At this moment, I wasn’t writing Finnian, I was him, and my heart broke alongside his.

To read more favourite quotes and see the other stops on the tour for reviews, guest posts, and excerpts visit the full Echoes In The Glass tour schedule (here)

Posted by Cheri

cheri lCheri Lasota has written poetry and fiction for sixteen years, edited fiction for nine years and recently jumped headlong into design work for enhanced e-books. She has a great love for all things techy, so she finds herself pushing the boundaries of e-book marketing and design at every turn. Her passion for fiction and helping other novelists achieve their goals is without limits.

Her bestselling debut novel, ARTEMIS RISING, is a 2013 Cygnus Awards First Place Winner and a 2012 finalist in the Next Generation Indie Books Awards. Cheri just released her how-to e-book DESIGN AND UPLOAD YOUR EPUB and is currently finishing up her second YA novel, ECHOES IN THE GLASS, set on the Oregon Coast.

Echoes In The Glass is published by Ever-Sea Press and is available to buy now from Amazon (here).

Our thanks to AToMR Tours ( Visit here for more information) for organising this tour and allowing us to be a part of it.

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We are delighted to welcome Sean Williams, author of Twinmaker, as he shares some of his thoughts on matter transmitters. Beam us up Sean!

imageA near-future thriller that fans of the GONE series and Doctor Who will love
Clair is pretty sure the offer in the ‘Improvement’ meme is just another viral spam, though Libby is determined to give it a try.
But what starts as Libby’s dream turns into Clair’s nightmare when her friend vanishes.
In her search for answers, Clair seeks out Jesse – a boy whose alternative lifestyle might help to uncover the truth.
What they don’t anticipate is intervention from the mysterious contact known only as Q, and being caught up in a conspiracy that will change everything.

Here’s a quick quiz.

Imagine a machine that can move you from place to place. Not a plane or a car, but a booth you step into. You tell the machine where you want to go. It takes you there. To you, it seems like no time at all has passed. To everyone else, maybe a minute or two. When the booth at the other end opens you see Stonehenge or your best friend’s house or anywhere else on Earth. Anywhere with a booth.

Would you do it?

Me, I wouldn’t even think about. I live in Adelaide, South Australia. I love it here, but it’s a looooong way from anywhere. At the moment this goes live, I’m in a hotel in Brighton on the other side of the world. It’s taken me over a day’s worth of taxis, airplanes and trains to get here. If I could skip all that in favour of just stepping into a booth (a bit like a TARDIS) and giving it directions, I would do it in a flash. Literally a flash–of electrons and photons rushing along a cable at the speed of light.

Before you decide, let me tell you how this machine works. Let’s call it “d-mat”, for starters. When a d-mat booth closes its doors and the machines start working, what it does is scan you from head to toe, outside in. To do that it uses something a lot like lasers. When it’s finished, there’s nothing of you left–not physically, anyway. That’s all been burned away. But you’ve been scanned right down to the tiniest detail, so “you” now “exist” as a pattern in computer memory. That pattern can be sent anywhere–and sent it is, to the place you want to be.

There, it all runs in reverse. Lasers in the other booth spin and weave an exact copy of you, molecule by molecule–and suddenly, as though by magic, you are back. Most importantly, you are alive. You feel the same as you did back in the first booth. You’re completely unaware of the lasers or the pattern or the cables. You’re just you, in a different place.

Let me ask you the question again. Now you know about the lasers (which really, when you think about it, destroyed you in the first booth) and the fact that what you will be a copy at the other end (not the original you, not one speck) would you do it?

Lots of people wouldn’t. There are so many questions. How can you be sure you’ll be exactly the same? What happens if something goes wrong–the power is cut or your pattern is lost or it’s changed somehow? What if there’s some special part of you–a “soul” or whatever you like to call it–that isn’t copied? Will you only think you’re alive at the other end, but actually you’ll be some kind of hollow zombie?

These are all creepy thoughts.

Me, I probably still would do it. After all, the way we get around today might seem a bit mad to someone not born in our time. We drive or fly in metal boxes with huge tanks full of explosive material over long distances, narrowly avoiding other such boxes full of other people. The slightest collision could see us all killed. We spend huge amounts of money on these boxes, and spend lots of time and even more money looking after them. In return they pump horrible fumes into the air that threaten to make us sick or even ruin the planet as a whole. Wouldn’t we be better off witouth all that, in exchange for a small amount of risk?

Also, the thought of not existing for a minute or so, between being scanned and being rebuilt–is that any different from going under an anaesthetic or being knocked out? Or even going to sleep at night? One moment we’re fully conscious, the next we’re not there at all. We always come back.

One of the amazing things about people is that we think we’re the same person we were when we were much younger, even though we looked and acted very differently, even though most of the cells in our bodies now didn’t exist back then. Why does the thought of being altered in even a tiny way by such a machine give us the heebie-jeebies?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this quiz. But it’s something to think about. Hopefully not late at night when you’re trying to sleep. (You WILL come back. I promise.) Philosophers have been using ideas like d-mat for decades to try to nut out who we are and how we feel about being who we are. I like to do the same thing, but with chase scenes and kissing.

Guest post by Sean Williams

image#1 New York Times bestselling Sean Williams lives with his family in Adelaide, South Australia. He’s written some books–thirty-nine at last count–including the Philip K. Dick-nominated Saturn Returns, several Star Wars novels and the Troubletwister series with Garth Nix. Twinmaker is the first in a new YA SF series that takes his love affair with the matter transmitter to a whole new level.

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Book Excerpt: Breaking The Reins

Today we are delighted to share an excerpt from Juliana Haygert‘s Breaking The Reins.

breaking the reinsHorses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.
After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.
Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.
But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.
**New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel**

I stepped toward the big French doors when I heard a shout and stopped. I looked around, trying to find the source, but didn’t see anyone. Letting my curiosity win, I descended the porch steps and followed the short stone path around a tall wall. Perhaps I shouldn’t spy, but I was concerned it could be someone who’d been riding and fell or something.

What I didn’t expect was to find Leo arguing with his father. In Portuguese.

I should have left. I should have retreated, pretended I never saw anything, and went back inside the main house and back to my mother and her friends.

But I caught a few words and sentences whispered in fast, harsh tones. Disappointment. Make me proud. Grow up. Work hard and stop playing.

My curiosity piqued, making me stay glued to my spot in the corner.

“Me deixa em paz, tche!” Leo shouted, turning his back to his father and stalking away.

I stepped back and hid behind the wall, hoping for all that was holy that he hadn’t seen me. My hopes went down the drain when he stepped around the corner three seconds later, his hard eyes on mine.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I didn’t mean to.”

His jaw tightened, and he crossed his arms over his blue T-shirt. The color emphasized his bright eyes, and the fabric clung to him, especially over his stomach, where a dark blotch of sweat showed off his hard abs. His goddamn white practice pants and the sweat-damp hair didn’t help either.

“How much did you hear?” he asked.

I swallowed, forcing my mind to push back images of his god-like body. “Not much. But I only understood a couple of words here and there.” I shifted my weight, uncomfortable under his gaze, not only because I’d seen and heard something I wasn’t supposed to. Keep your mouth shut, Hannah. Keep your damned mouth sh… “Want to talk about it?”

The shine in his eyes changed, and the tension in his neck seemed to lessen. He shook his head. “Don’t worry. It’s just the usual banter.”

Usual? I didn’t like the sound of that. His family seemed so perfect, so warm, so close, so happy. His sister had said he rarely smiled, which seemed odd since I had seen him smiling before. I was dying to know why he and his father usually argued.
Instead, I started a new subject. “I heard you’re staying.”

He nodded. “It was the plan all along.”


“Sim. Polo in Brazil isn’t that strong. Here, though, is another story.”

“I see.” I looked from side to side. “Do you and your brothers plan on staying for … long?” I pressed my lips together, chiding myself for almost saying forever.

“We don’t know. Perhaps, if all goes well.” He took a step closer, his eyes still on mine, making me slightly breathless. His body loomed closer, the difference in our heights and widths almost hilarious, if it wasn’t for the fact it turned me on.


“I hope we do.”

A shiver rolled down my spine.

juliana haygertAbout the Author:
New Adult author and contributor at NA Alley blog (visit here)
While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.
To learn more about Juliana and her work visit her at her website (here),her blog (here), Facebook page (here) and Goodread’s authors page (here). Alternatively you can converse with her on twitter (here).

Breaking the Reins was published on the 19th of August and is available to buy from (here), (here) and Kobo Books (here).

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Book Blitz Organised by YA Bound Book Tours (visit here)

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Book Excerpt: All In by Marta Brown

Marta Brown

All In CoverOn the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard, there are two kinds of residents. Locals and Stays.
Local boy, Lane McCarthy, plans on spending his summer working at the country club to save money for college in the fall, while summer stay, Ashley Whitmore, and her elite group of friends are only there to play.
As the summer heat goes up on the island, so does the ante, when both Lane and Ashley must decide what they’re willing to wager in order to follow their dreams… and their hearts.
With stakes as high as the surf, and hopes as high as the midday sun, will they risk everything and go all in?


His head is down as he crosses the private section of the beach, staying close to the water’s edge but avoiding the moving tide.
“Lane,” I call out over the noise of the party and the waves, but he doesn’t seem to hear me, so I call his name again, this time louder. “Hey, Lane.” He glances up and scans the party, squinting before finally seeing me. A smile flashes across his face. I smile back as I approach him, my flip flops kicking up sand behind me.

“Hi,” I say. My drink, mostly untouched, sloshes and spills over the lip of the cup when I stop in front of him.
“Looks like you’re having fun.” He nods at my drink and then up at the party.

“I actually just got here. I’m glad you came.” I feel my cheeks heat up, and I’m relieved it’s dark enough that he can’t see. “I think Andrew’s around here somewhere.” I look over my shoulder to point Lane in the right direction.

“Ah, no thanks. I think I’ll steer clear of your kind of parties,” he says, shoving his hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts.
“What do you mean my kind of parties?”

“Nothing, never mind.” He kicks at the sand and looks uncomfortable.

“Oh no.” I cover my mouth with my hand. “Did you get in trouble last night when the cops showed up?”

“Yeah, thanks to your boyfriend,” he says with a sneer that makes me take a step back.

My boyfriend?

“I’m not sure what his deal is, but he’s a serious dick.” Lane’s jaw is tight, and there’s not a hint of joking in his tone.
“Gregory?” I ask wide eyed. Why would he think Gregory is my boyfriend? I have a flash of Greg and I at lunch together looking very much like a couple and then again at the bluffs when he gave me his coat, something a boyfriend would do. Oh.

“He is definitely not my boyfriend,” I say seriously. “He’s my ex, if you can even call it that. We dated for like a second, but it was never very serious.” Why am I telling him all this? Stop rambling, Ashley. I dig my toes into the sand. “But you’re right about one thing. He is a dick.” I give Lane a playful grin and watch the light from the bonfire bounce off his features as his jaw loosens and a tentative smile spreads across his face.

From a distance, I hear Gregory’s voice, and when I glance over my shoulder, he’s stumbling our direction, obviously drunk and completely uninvited.

“Speak of the devil.” I roll my eyes and that makes Lane smile bigger.

“The rest of the staff is over there,” Gregory slurs, pointing to the tent where the cater waiters are busy putting out more hors d’oeuvres. Lane ignores his snide remark, never taking his eyes off of me.

“It was nice seeing you again, but I gotta go,” Lane says, and I’m immediately disappointed that he’s leaving.

“Are you sure?” I look down at my feet and try to garner enough nerve to ask him not to go. “Stay,” I say so softly it comes out as more of a whisper when I look back up at him.

He peers over his shoulder across the small peninsula to the lighthouse then back at me. “I’m sorry, I can’t…I…I have to work.” He looks genuinely disappointed, and I wonder if he knows I am too. “But hopefully I’ll see you around, okay?” He gives me a smile that makes my knees go weak before taking off down the beach. In the faint light coming off of the fire, I see him glance back at me before he cuts across the sandy peninsula and disappears into the shadows of tall sea grass.

He’s not her boyfriend.

I shake my head to clear my mind before I steal one last glance over my shoulder at her as I walk away, but it’s on a loop, and it’s all I can think. He’s not her boyfriend.

I shake my head again, this time to snap myself out of it. There’s no way a girl like that would go for a guy like me anyway. Would she? I shut my eyes and replay the way she looked at me through her long dark lashes, softly asking me to stay, causing my stomach to knot.

“He’s not her boyfriend,” I say out loud at the door of the lighthouse. I pull my keys from my pocket as the sounds of the party float through the otherwise quiet night, and I feel a stupid grin spread across my face despite the rude remarks I just got from that ass-hat Gregory. Seriously, when will the ‘help’ jokes get old?

“Let go. You’re hurting me,” a girl yelps from down the beach. I spin around and from the light coming off the bonfire I can see Gregory’s hand is wrapped around Ashley’s arm, and she’s wincing in pain.

Without a thought, I drop my keys to the ground and take off running, reaching them in seconds. “Let her go,” I yell. My fists ball tight, ready to make him if I have to.

“Mind your own business, loser,” Gregory snarls back as he jerks Ashley by the arm eliciting another cry.

“Lane,” Ashley says, struggling against his grip, fear on her face.

I lunge forward and grab Gregory’s arm, yanking him away from her with a force that surprises even me. “I said Let. Her. Go.”
Ashley falls to the ground when Gregory releases his hold, rubbing her arm in pain. I kneel down and brush the hair from her face, searching for any other signs of injury as adrenaline pounds in my veins.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I promise,” she says, our eyes locked with one another. “Thank you.”

“Come to save the damsel in distress,” Gregory says in a patronizing tone, looking down his nose at me. Convinced Ashley’s alright; I jump up and face him. He’s poised and ready for a fight, and that makes two of us. “You do know the peasant doesn’t get the girl, right? The prince does.”

I can’t stop the laugh that comes out of me. “Are you serious right now?” Who does this guy think he is? “Dude, when a girl’s screaming to be let go, it’s a pretty good indicator that she doesn’t want you, prince or not.”

I hear a light snickering from behind me before I see that a small crowd has gathered around and is watching us intently. I’m surprised they haven’t all started chanting ‘fight’ by the way they look on like we’re simply the entertainment for the evening.

“You know what? She can slum it all she wants with you. She’s nothing but an uptight frigid tease anyway. Good luck getting into her pants,” Gregory says, wearing an arrogant smirk, his arms crossed leisurely across his chest like he’s just landed a fatal blow.

My vision goes red. He’s about to find out exactly how a real blow feels. To the face.

marta brownMarta Brown grew up in the Pacific Northwest and was a teenager when Doc Martens, Pearl Jam and flannel were the norm and Dylan loved Kelly forever. (Beverly Hills 90210 shout out)
She still lives just outside Seattle, now with her husband and cat, and loves the rain.
When she’s not writing about cute boys, first kisses and the magic and wonder of being seventeen, she’s watching The CW. And she sleeps in. Late.
Learn more about Marta by visiting herWebsite (click here to visit), on her Goodreads authors page(here) or Tumbler (here). Alternatively you can converse with Marta on Twitter (here)

All In is available to buy from,Barnes and Noble (here) and Kobo Books (here)


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Keeping Her: A Message From Cora Cormack

We are delighted to welcome Cora Cormack as she shares a sneaky peek at her upcoming novella, Keeping Her.

Preview Package: Cora Carmack's KEEPING HER by AvonBooks

The Keeping Her ebook novella will be published on 13th of August by William Morrow for US readers and on the 15th of August, by Ebury Digital,for UK readers.

If you would like to learn more about Cora’s work she will be participating in a Goodreads chat along Jay Crownover (author of Jet and Rule)on the 26th of June (click here to go to the site).

Cora will also be hosting a FAKING IT book club on her Facebook page (click here to visit her Facebook page) on the 27th of June from 3-4 p.m. EDT( 19:00-20:00 GMT) where you can live chat with Cora about the book and ask her all your burning questions.

Alternatively, visit the Keeping Her Goodreads page (here).

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Wild Boy Blog Tour: No fun at the fair

Rob Lloyd Jones joins us today to share the inspiration behind the fairground setting of his middle grade book, Wild Boy.

wild boy coverLondon, 1841
A boy covered in hair, raised as a monster, condemned to life in a travelling freak show.
A boy with extraordinary powers of observation and detection.
A boy accused of murder; on the run; hungry for the truth.
Ladies and Gentlemen, take your seats. The show is about to begin.

Hello, and thanks for having me on Big Book Little Book!

So, fairgrounds eh? Whirling rides, whoops of laughter, nostrils flaring at the sickly sweet aroma of candyfloss. We all love them, right?

Not me. Not anymore.

I always wanted to write a mystery set around a fairground. I knew the hero would be a performer in a freak show; a boy covered in hair and confined to a showman’s caravan. He would dream of being different, sneaking through the fairground to spy on people he considered ‘normal’. But he would be tough, his character forged from years of standing up to bullies. That meant his world – the fairground – had to be a tough place too. Well, I thought, I could make that bit up. It’s a story after all.

Then I read Seventy Years a Showman – the memoirs of legendary Victorian showman Lord George Sanger – and I thought, ‘Yikes! I’m going to have to tone this down a little’.

Sanger’s tales of life on a travelling fair hold no punches. In fact they are filled with punches, and whippings and knife fights and scams and swindles. His was a mud-splattered world of rickety caravans and saggy-roofed tents, where ruffians marauded along paths picking fights, and cutthroats lurked in the shadows.

Sanger (who wasn’t a real lord, he just gave himself that title) packs his account with astonishing, gasp-inducing tales such as his run-in with a body snatcher, or the unbelievably rough justice – Showman’s Law – dealt to a gang of roughs that attacked the fairground. My favourite story, though, is the ‘Battle of Oxford Road’ – a bust up between rival fairs in which, “Even the freaks took part. The Fat Man made for the Living Skeleton with a door hook; the Living Skeleton battered at the Fat Man with a peg mallet.”

The more I read about Victorian fairgrounds the more I realised just how tough my hero – Wild Boy – had to be to survive, especially after he’s framed for murder. But I was determined that he would survive, and prove his innocence. It wouldn’t be easy – stalked by bounty hunters, a hooded killer, and a secret society with a sinister machine. But he wouldn’t face the terrors alone. He has a friend, a circus star called Clarissa, who’s as tough and foul-mouthed as anyone at the fair. And all those hours that Wild Boy spent spying on people at the fair, reading them for clues to their lives, also taught him a particular skill.

He is the greatest detective of his time.

Post by Robb Lloyd Jones

Wild Boy will be published on the 4th of April by Walker Books

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It’s here!

It’s here,

It’s finally here!

The date Cassandra Clare fans have been waiting for since the moment they turned the last page of Clockwork prince. Or, perhaps like me, since they turned the first page of Clockwork Angel back in 2010.
The third and final instalment in The Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Princess, is released in to the world today.

clockwork Princess (walker)Danger intensifies for the Shadowhunters as the New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy comes to a close.
If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it?
The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose.
Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.
Danger closes in around the Shadowhunters in the final installment of the bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy.

I write this post with red rimmed, puffy eyes and a stuffy nose.

The cause of my condition? An opportunistic cold virus? An episode of early hay fever? Or perhaps i’ve been chopping onions?

Oh no.

The cause of my distress can be laid firmly at the feet (or more fittingly, the mind and pen) of Cassandra Clare.

Despite a strict embargo, I was lucky enough to received my preordered copy of Clockwork Princess three days early *puts amazon on the naughty step*.

At first the excitement grabbed me and I could see no wrong in this situation. After all, I had no intention of releasing spoilers and after months, and months, and months (lets not talk about the agony caused by the change in release date) of waiting I was finally able to dive back in to Victorian London and the lives of Will, Jem and Tess.

I can’t even put in to words how much I Love this book. I’ve laughed and cried, been amazed and surprised, I’ve had my heart broken and re-built. I feel rung out. The Infernal Devices was already one of my favourite book series but the publication of Clockwork Princess, has cemented it’s place in my mind and engraved the characters names on my heart *rubs chest*

Now, having finished this remarkable book, I see the flaw in my haste.

I. Have. So. Many. Feelings. and No One to talk to about them!

SO, I implore you, Please get hold of a copy, read it quickly, and get in touch, before I explode from all of the feels.

Incoherent, fan girl, rambling by Caroline

Those lovely people at Walker books have kindly offered to ease some of my suffering by providing a UK paperback of Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Princess to one lucky reader.

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Picture Books- Where Inspiration Meets Craft

To say that we are excited to host Jez Alborough on todays blog would be an understatement. Jez’s humorous, rhyming tales with their colourful, expressive and engaging illustrations have delighted and entertained during many a Big Book Little Book bedtime routine. His fabulous picture books, Some Dogs Do (read Jane’s review here) and Where’s My Teddy, are among our little ones favourites. We can’t wait to explore his latest offering, Nat The Cat’s Sunny Smile.

Nat the catNat the Cat jumps out of bed with a smile spread halfway round his head.
He’s packed a delicious picnic to share with his friends, Billy Goat and Hugo Hare.
But Billy and Hugo are both feeling down. They are just not in a picnicky mood.
Nat carries on alone, but he soon finds that his smile is gone. Luckily, he’s passed on his smile to his friends and they soon come along to cheer him right back up again!
Another gorgeous rhyming treat from the glorious Jez Alborough

It’s easy to write for children, anyone could do it! Some people actually believe this, I suppose their reasoning is that you’re writing for undeveloped minds, there aren’t many pages and you don’t even have to use many words. Anyone who loves children’s books or indeed who has tried to write one knows that this is simply not true. ‘Less’ is certainly ‘more’ but how to write ‘less’ and make it ‘more’ is not an easy thing to achieve. So what actually goes into the making of a picture book? Put simply my aim is to capture some aspect of life within 32 pages of words and pictures and make it relevant, engaging and fun for children. If I manage to say something true about my chosen subject then there’s every possibility that the parent reading the book will enjoy it as well as the child. In my latest book Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile I explore the subject of feelings. In particular what happens when Nat, who is happy, meets with his friends, one of whom is grumpy while the other is sad. You can see how, even though it is a children’s story I have entered into the world of psychology and for the book to be ‘true’ then the psychology has to be authentic. What effect does a negative feeling have on a positive one? If I sugar coat this or make it unrealistic then the story won’t work; however I also have to convey the information about feelings in a way that is understandable to a child. There is a knack to this and for me it involves being in touch with a childlike place of innocence within myself; this affords me the ability to communicate with children on their terms. Without this knack it is possible to fall into the trap of ‘writing down’ to children and portraying what an adult mind thinks that their world is like. This is not the same thing at all. When I write a children’s book part of me is tuned into what the five year old me would enjoy in a story while the other adult part is providing the craft which tells me how best to tell the story. The process then is a mixture of the innocence of the child’s perspective and the experience of the adults.

Craft in storytelling is every bit as important as inspiration. If you described a day in your life in which extraordinary events took place it wouldn’t necessarily make a great story. The storyteller pulls events together in a structure which sets off the emotional journey of the story to its best advantage. In basic terms storytelling is all about the releasing of information; this has to be done at exactly the right time and in the most appropriate and entertaining way. Nat the Cat’s story is quite simple: she wakes up with a smile, loses it, then finds it again. The interest comes from the craft of telling how and why she loses it and how and why she finds it again. The heart of the story is how her smile gets passed on to her less than happy friends.

One of the best things about picture books is that they are created to be read out loud, to be shared. This means that they are very much an interactive art form, they require someone to read them out to bring them to life. The reader of the book is the last link in the chain which began with me having the original inspiration for the story. When I write a story I have quite a strong idea of how I feel my story should be read. I have a theory that if the book is written with this mind then it directs the reader in their performance of the story. The rhythm and rhyme along with the punctuation all act as signposts as to how to deliver the words. This is important because however well a story is written a poor delivery can always sabotage it’s chances of engaging with an audience. The more the reader puts into a performance the more the book can come alive. The book is like a sleeping beauty, the story is all there but it needs the reader to kiss it into life.

I have been creating picture books since 1984 and although I have developed my craft over the years each time I start a new book I feel like a beginner all over again. For this reason I have a great respect for picture books and I never take for granted the process that goes into making them. I recently received my first finished copy of Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile in the post and I was humbled to feel that my one tiny idea had turned into this physical book which parents, teachers and librarians will be sharing with the children in their lives. I hope you will become one of those readers and Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile is passed on to you. If that happens, if my story and pictures makes you smile, you will have tasted the magic of picture books.

Guest post by Jez Alborough

Jez Alborough is the author-illustrator of the picture-book charmer HUG, his first book about Bobo. He has also created many other celebrated books for children, including SOME DOGS DO — a story about a dog who can fly — and the best-selling Eddie and the Bear books: WHERE’S MY TEDDY?, IT’S THE BEAR!, and MY FRIEND BEAR. Of TALL, he says, “Bobo experiences feeling small as well as feeling tall, but in the end he learns that whatever size you are is the size you’re meant to be.” Jez Alborough lives with his wife in London. ( Biography via Netgalley’s).
To learn more about Jez’s work visit him (here) on Facebook and follow him on Twitter

Nat the Cat is published on March 7th.

Find out how the book was created from idea to publication visit Nat The Cat’s Blog (here).

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Lucifer Blog Tour: Interview With Annabelle Cadiz

We are very excited to be hosting not one, but two spots on Annabell Cadiz’s blog tour for her debut novel Lucifer (book one in the Sons Of Old trilogy). Today is devoted to getting to know a little more about Annabell and her recently released paranormal novel.

AnnabelleAnnabell Cadiz was born in the sweltering heat of South Florida. She was raised surrounded by Puerto Rican chefs and band of siblings that weren’t all related to her. A self-proclaimed nerd and book-a-holic (her room does hold much evidence to prove her claims are justifiable), she created TeamNerd Reviews to showcase her EXTREME love for novels where, along with her best friend, Bridget Strahin, she hosts book reviews, interviews, giveaways, Indie Shoutouts and much more. She also blog tour services for authors. She also had the pleasure of being published in three separate issue of Suspense Magazine. She also adores Cinnamon Teddy Grahams, has an addiction to Minute Maid Orange juice, and is a proud Jesus Freak. Lucifer is Annabell’s debut novel and the first book in the Sons of Old Trilogy.
You can find out more about Annabell and her work by visiting her website, Goodreads author page, Pinterest account, Facebook page,and her fabulous book blog. Alternatively, you can converse with her on twitter.

What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, you’ll find me hanging out with my crazy Puerto Rican family or hanging out with my girlfriends. Having movie night with the girls or having creative chats where we discuss creative projects we’re working on or thinking about doing. Or you’ll find me yelling from the stands at my nephew’s soccer practices and games. Or stalking the shelves at the library and piling my arms full of books. I also love bike riding.

What inspired you to become a writer?
I started writing when I was sixteen. I had decided if Stephen King could write a book so could I. The arrogance (and ignorance) of youth *hehe* The job to writing a book and publication I knew absolutely nothing about so that was a fun and tough learning experience. I was inspired to become a writer because I adore storytelling. I like how a story can haunt you or tempt or teach you. There’s a power and beauty to storytelling and I love it!

What was your inspiration for LUCIFER?
LUCIFER was inspired through the series that follows the SONS OF OLD TRILOGY, the FALLEN ANGELS SERIES. I had never really thought about writing a prequel trilogy or series of any kind, but the idea came to me when I got stuck trying to figure out what direction I wanted to move in with the FALLEN ANGELS SERIES. I started wondering about how Lucifer could come to have a child with a human woman. How would he convince a woman to fall in love with him? Would he care if she really loved him or would he just kidnapped some random girl and force her to have his child? Would he somehow fall in love with the human girl? Could loving that girl change him? I had wanted to explore Lucifer’s path to creating war with Heaven that happens in the FALLEN ANGELS SERIES thus the SONS OF OLD TRILOGY was born.

Tell us about your book:
LUCIFER follows Zahara Faraday and her family. Where Zahara and her father, Solomon, are all human, her mother, Mia, and her aunt, Catalina, are Light Witches. They hunt down rogue supernaturals—supernatural creatures who are up to no good (i.e. stealing human memories, drinking human blood, possessing humans) and return them to the Supernatural Kingdom they belong to. Everything is going as normal (well, as normal as normal can get for a family half made up of Light Witches with powers who hunt down dangerous supernaturals), when Zahara and her family find themselves under attack by an unknown enemy determined to use them in his quest for revenge against Heaven. There are memory-stealing fairies, blood drinking rogue Imagoes (supernatural creatures who can steal a human’s soul and drink human blood), powerful fallen angels and Nephilim (hybrid children of angels and humans), and battles to survive. There are tons of hawt guys and kick-butt beautiful ladies. There are flirt fighting romances, kidnapping, and murder. All juicy things to check out if you’re a fan of the urban fantasy, supernatural, and paranormal genres 😉

Are any elements of your book based on real life experiences/people?
There are few elements to LUCIFER that are inspired from real life.

The family dynamic between Zahara and her parents as well as Becca and her parents. Zahara and Becca are really close to their parents and their parents are extremely overprotective of them. They really respect their parents and are very open with them. I have the same type of relationship with my parents and my family. I grew up in a HUGE family and everyone is really close and involved in each other’s business. There really isn’t much privacy =P I’m really close to both my mom and dad. My parents are my best friend and I have a really close relationship with my older brother. My family does everything together. We don’t really like going anywhere alone. It’s not that we never do, it’s just we prefer having someone tag along. When you grow up in a family as big as mine, its normal to always have someone around.

I also grew up in a Christian family. Zahara and Becca do as well. I share the same values as they do. You don’t go out with a guy without first building a friendship with him and introducing him to your parents. He has to ask for their permission. It’s a matter of respect for both the girl and the parents. Its old school thinking but it was the way I was raised.

Zahara’s character was inspired by both myself and my mother and grandmother. The strength she possesses, how stubborn and strong-willed she is, how once she makes her judgement on something it’s really difficult to change her mind—I’m just like that *smiles sheepishly* Becca’s character was inspired by my two best friends Bridget and Eve. Becca is bubbly and sarcastic and optimistic. My two best buds are very much like that in many ways.

What books have inspired you?
There are many books that I have loved that have inspired me as a writer! Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, The Stand by Stephen King. All really great reads =)

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?
The last book I recommended was actually to my niece. I bought her a copy of Beautiful Creatures and she fell in love with it 😉

What/Who inspired you as a reader?
My mom is my biggest inspiration as a reader. She taught me how to read really young and loves reading herself. She has a collection of books all her own and made sure I grew up with a love for stories.

Just For Fun!

Paper, Audio or eBook?
I haven’t really listened to many audio books. I do read ebooks and enjoy them but I will always prefer hardcover copies of books. There’s just a special type of magic with a book made out of paper and ink. It’s like hugging an old friend you’ve missed *hehe*

If LUCIFER was made in to a film which actor(s), past or present, do you envision in the lead role(s)

Zahara Faraday (Kick-Butt Heroine)—I was thinking actress Saoirse Ronan would be a good fit. If you saw her in the movie Hana, you would understand why 😉 She was awesome in that movie and in The Lovely Bones.

Becca King (Best Friend & Awesome Sidekick) –Originally I had thought Zoe Kravtitz would make a good fit for Becca but I was iffy about it. My best friend Eve told me about Logan Browning and she fits Becca much better.

Bryan Hamilton (Hawt Male Lead) –I love Freddie Storma! And not because he’s easy on the eyes *wink* He’s an actual good actor and has such a sweet and humble demeanour (at least from what I can tell by interviews =P)

Rekesh Saint-Louis (Hawt Leader of a Powerful Imago Coven)—Bryton James has a really good Rekesh vibe and I like his acting. He seems really laid back and charming.

If your book had a soundtrack which artists would feature on it?
ABSOULTELY must have Family Force 5! LOOOVE THEM!! The Civil Wars, Paper Tongues, Flyleaf, Matchbox 20.

Slippers or barefoot?
Slippers! I HATE walking around barefoot. I don’t like my feet being dirty. It just bothers me like crazy!

Email or postcard?
I LOVE handwritten stuff. Notes, letters, post-it notes. There’s something very beautiful and loving about giving or receiving a handwritten letter or note. There’s a romanticism aspect to it and an intimacy of love you can’t really get through an email. (Can you tell I’m a romantic? lol)

luciferWell, for eighteen-year-old Zahara Faraday, she doesn’t have to wonder. You see she comes from a lineage of Light Witches, those who have chosen to help protect and serve between the supernatural world and the human world. The only problem is Zahara, like her father Solomon, is as human as a human being can be whereas her mother, Mia, and her Aunt Catalina, were born as Light Witches. As a family they hunt down rogue supernaturals—creatures who harm humans or who have committed an act against their kingdom.
Zahara’s hunting skills are usually kept dormant since her parents would prefer she live life as a normal human girl without knowledge of the supernatural world. She plans on doing just that—except when she finds a couple being attacked by fairies, she has no choice but to step in. Before she can return to pretending to be blissfully ignorant, Zahara encounters a problem she isn’t the least equip to handle: Bryan Hamilton, the good looking new co-worker she has to help train. In a heartbeat, her best friend, Becca King, has set her up on a double date with herself and her new crush, Rekesh Saint-Louis, who happens to be the most powerful leader of the biggest Imago Coven in South Florida –supernatural creatures with the ability to control water . . . and suck out human souls.
Zahara has no time to focus on how she’s going to explain her double date with her best friend and the enemy they have a tentative truce with to her parents because soon one of the members of Mia and Catalina’s coven is found murdered with a strange tattoo of a snake with wings carved into his arm.
Zahara is then thrown into a whirlwind battle with an angel determined to have revenge against God, an Imago coven she doesn’t think they should trust, and slew of dream-eating fairies and powerful Nephilims, hybrid children of angels and humans, more than happy to rip her to shreds.
Normal just got a deadlier definition.

Lucifer, the first book in Annabell’s Son’s Of Old Trilogy, is available to buy now from Barnes and Noble, and

In honor of the two main female leads in LUCIFER, Zahara and Becca, Annabell created a fun swag pack for ONE very lucky winner!
Win a specially made makeup kit by E.L.F along with one DVD copy of the movie Sixteen Candles, a fuschia metallic manicure set, a Girl Power Superwoman wristband, a LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD silver necklace, a silver bracelet with handcuff & key charms, Honey Sweetheart lotion (that smells INCREDIBLE!), two toned lip bloom (that is SUPER cute!), and gray colored cheetah printed socks that are SOOOO adorables and an ecopy of LUCIFER!
ANNNND if that wasn’t enough,FIVE other lucky winners will win a FREE ecopy of LUCIFER!
TWICE a week on MONDAYS & FRIDAYS a new clue from LUCIFER will be posted up. Enter the new clue inside the Rafflecopter every time a new one is posted and get more chances to win!
Stop by the BLOG TOUR page(here) to enter!

Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow as Annabell shares the benefit of her experience of self publication.

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Happy Publication Day: The Diamond Thief

Happy Book Birthday to Sharon Gosling and her middle grade debut, The Diamond Thief ( read Daisy’s thoughts here)
We are beside ourselves with excitment to be able to share with you the opening pages of this fabulous stream punk adventure. A massive thank you to the kind people at Curious Fox( learn more here )for granting us permission to post this extract.

the diamond thiefNo one performs on the circus trapeze like sixteen-year-old Remy Brunel. But Remy also leads another life, as a cat burglar and jewel thief. Forced by the evil circus owner Gustave to attempt the theft of one of the world’s most valuable diamonds, Remy thinks it will be just another heist, but when she meets determined young detective Thaddeus Rec, her life changes forever.
Will Thaddeus manage to rescue the jewel? Or is it really Remy that he needs to save?

Le Cirque de la Lune

Rémy took a deep breath as she stood on the edge of the narrow plunge board. Above her, the old material of the big top’s roof was close enough to touch. Below her was nothing at all but air dirtied by dust and tobacco smoke, and then, sixty feet below, arranged around the sawdust of the circus ring, there was the crowd. She could almost hear their silence, the collected indrawn breath of five hundred people. They were all waiting to see what she could do. They wanted to see her tumble through the air above them, to dive and swoop, hanging from a thin metal bar suspended only by two old ropes. And perhaps…just perhaps, this time, she would fall.

Beside her, Larotti balanced precariously, holding her trapeze still. Rémy dipped her hands in the chalk bowl, clapping them together to send a shower of white dust raining through the flickering gaslight. Then she nodded once, chin held high. The little Italian let go as the strains of Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre” began to rise from the ragged little orchestra below. Rémy counted two beats as the trapeze dropped away. Then she leapt, into thin air.

10 For a second, there was nothing to keep her from falling to a horrible death. The crowd gasped, and then, as Rémy’s fingers caught the fleeing trapeze, they sighed in relief. The sound rippled around the huge tent like a breeze, shivering its faded red and yellow stripes.

Rémy twisted lightly, graceful as a bird. She was wearing her favourite costume – it was cerise pink, edged in black, and, even though it was old and had been repaired more times than she could remember, it still stood out perfectly against her pale skin and unruly black hair. Rémy wore it with long fishnet stockings and greasepaint around her eyes, which made her look like a harlequin. Claudette had fashioned a flower from a scrap of almost-matching satin for her hair, along with two long, thin feathers dyed pitch black. From a distance, people said Rémy looked like a bird of paradise, flying on invisible wings. She flipped herself backwards, letting go of the bar with her hands and catching the trapeze with her feet instead, arms stretching down towards the sawdust. Rémy flicked her hips to the right, sending the trapeze into a fast spin as she let one foot come loose and held it straight out, so the audience could see that now, it was only by one ankle that she had any hold at all. Slowing the spin, Rémy righted herself again, dancing up to stand on her hands on the bar before somersaulting backwards as the trapeze swung in a graceful arc above the crowd.

Far below her, Rémy heard Claudette’s sharp whistle echo in the distance. Glancing down, she saw Dominique canter into the sawdust circle. The little palomino wore an old tan saddle and a feather headdress to match Rémy’s own, and on her back was Nicodemus. The pony circled, her pace steady as the wizened little capuchin monkey began to somersault too, over and over, copying Rémy’s movements on Domnique’s back. The crowd roared with laughter, pointing and clapping and slapping their thighs in delight.

Rémy swung the trapeze twice more, gathering speed as the music built and built. She somersaulted again and again, faster and faster. Below, Nicodemus kept perfect time with her all the way.

And then, as the music reached its crescendo, she somersaulted again, twisting backwards, reaching for the bar…She missed. Her fingers brushed the metal of the trapeze, but did not grip it.

Rémy fell like a stone.

Screams erupted around the big tent. People stood, shouting and pointing. Men waved their tattered hats in the air, women pulled their patched shawls up around their faces or used them to shield their children’s eyes, as Rémy plunged head-first towards the compacted earth of the sawdust ring. She managed to twist in mid-air, a mighty turnabout that tipped her upright. There was a flurry of movement in the corner of her eye. Someone from the audience had lunged over the barrier. It was a young man in a long brown coat and top hat – he was rushing towards her, arms outstretched, as if to break her fall. Rémy’s would-be rescuer was so focused on catching her that he almost stepped straight into the path of her horse. Thankfully, Dominique had seen Rémy falling and knew what she had to do.

The pony butted the man out of the way, hard enough to send him sprawling, but at least out of harm’s way. Then she slowed until she was in exactly the right spot. Nicodemus jumped from her back and ran to the upturned bucket in the middle of the ring. Rémy landed squarely, with both feet, on the pony’s saddle, immediately lifting one leg to stand in ballet pose, her free foot pointing elegantly outwards. Dominique continued to canter in a circle as Rémy rode her one-footed. Still standing on the upturned bucket, Nicodemus saluted them both. There was a second of silence as the crowd realized what had happened. And then the sound of cheering and clapping swept over Rémy like a tide, louder than for any other act that night. But then, it always was.

She dropped until she was seated on the pony’s back, patting Dominique with one hand as she waved to the audience with the other. She’d usually do a couple of victory circuits of the ring to soak up the applause, but tonight Rémy’s gaze searched for the man who had tried to save her. He was still picking himself up, forlornly brushing sawdust from his coat. “Sorry,” she called over the thunderous sound of the audience as she pulled Dominique to a halt beside him. “She is trained not to let anything get in her way when we do my act. If she had stopped, I would have died. And you too, probably. I would have crushed you!”

The young man looked up at her. To her surprise, she saw he couldn’t be that much older than she was. It was his eyes that really startled her, though. They were two different colours – one as blue as the sky over Paris on a bright day in May, one as deep brown as good chocolate. And they twinkled. He bent down to retrieve his hat and pushed it on over his mussed hair before replying.

“Well,” he said with a slight smile. “That’ll teach me to be a good Samaritan, won’t it? People do keep telling me I shouldn’t bother. Good day, miss.”

He tipped his hat briefly and then turned away. A second later, he was lost in the crowd. Rémy’s gaze tried to follow him, but it was no good. He was gone.

She and Dominique did one more circuit of the ring and then left the big top, Nicodemus skittering along in their wake. Claudette was waiting for her at the players’ entrance. The little monkey rushed off into the thick night, through London’s chill drizzle and back to the animal enclosure. Claudette tutted as she saw Rémy adjust her opal necklace, pulling it down from where it had flown up around her ears as she’d fallen. “You know you should not wear that on the wire, ma chérie,” Claudette chided in her gentle, sing-song voice, as Rémy slid gracefully from Dominique’s back. “One of these days, you will strangle yourself. And it will be a night like tonight, when someone stupid tries to save the girl who does not need to be saved.”

Rémy grinned as she took the threadbare black robe Claudette held out and pulled it on over her head. She kicked off the silver slippers she always wore on the trapeze and struggled into her boots, instead. They were leather, black and worn like everything else she possessed, and the only pair she had owned since she was ten – six whole years. “Never, Claudette. You know me – I live a charmed life. Probably because I never take my opal off.”

Claudette shook her head with long-suffering patience, her thick chestnut hair hanging loose around her shoulders. At 24, she was eight years older than Rémy, and along with her little daughter, Amélie, was the closest thing Rémy had to a family. “Well, I hope your charm is at full power tonight,” Claudette told her. “Gustave wants to see you.”

Rémy made a face and sighed. “Ach. It must be time.” Claudette raised an eyebrow. Her eyes seemed even darker than usual, and they bore a trace of worry. “Take care, chérie. This one will be difficult, I think. We are not in France now, you know. This is the great city of London, not a little town in Provence.” Rémy straightened up and wiped rain from her eyes as she regarded her friend. Claudette was a fortune-teller and talented pickpocket. She could take a wallet from its owner and they would swear blind she’d never even been close enough to touch them. They were all vagabonds and thieves at Le Cirque de la Lune – and Rémy… well, Rémy was queen of them all. She’d been stealing since she was old enough to walk, and a jewel thief since she’d learned how to work the wire aged eight. Now, she was the best gem snatcher in Europe, probably in the whole of the world. Rémy had never been caught. And, she thought to herself, I never will be. Never.

“You worry too much,” she said. “Why should this be different to any other? They’ll never catch me, Claudette. That is what makes me so valuable to Gustave, yes?” Claudette sighed. “You should not take these things too lightly, Rémy,” she warned. “One day your luck will run out. And in any case, this life… it is not good enough for you. You should run, while you still can. Gustave could not –” Rémy shook her head. “When I can take you and Amélie with me, then we will all go,” she said. “But not before. We need money! And now is not the time for this old argument of ours, ma belle amie. I must go before the old goat gets too impatient. Kiss Amélie goodnight for me. Tell her she must sleep well because Dominique will be waiting to give her another lesson in the morning.”

Claudette smiled, taking Dominique’s reigns and digging a sugar-lump from her pocket as she led her away. “Then you had better make sure you come back, hadn’t you, Little Bird?” Rémy watched Claudette disappear into the thick black shadows of the circus tents. Behind her, the last of the audience was leaving, laughing and chattering. She smiled. She had been good tonight – really good, even despite the almost-disaster caused by the boy with the mismatched eyes. Rémy was always good, she knew that, but some nights it felt as if she could walk on air, and those were always her best performances. Not that Gustave ever paid her extra, or praised her work. He was more interested in her other, illegal, skills.

Rémy looked towards his caravan. It stood apart from the rest, at the back of the field he had rented for them. Well, Gustave called it a field, but it was really just a barren patch of land behind the Spitalfields market, turned to mud by the never-ending rain. Rémy glanced up, blinking into the night gloom at the sooty grey clouds that seemed permanently gathered overhead. Out beyond the market square, the buildings of London slouched towards each other as if sheltering together from the miserable weather. Lights flickered and guttered in windows caked with grime and soot. The silhouettes of the taller townhouses of the East End loomed darkly over the cobbled streets. It was the first time Rémy had left France, and she’d expected a better, brighter place. But there was as much dirt and poverty here as at home, and the bread was bad, too. She dreamed of a life somewhere else, somewhere sunny, where she did not have to steal. One day…Rémy pulled her hands into her sleeves and scuffed the toe of her boot into the mud. ‘One day’ was not tonight, she reminded herself. Tonight, she had to steal the second biggest diamond in the world.

Squaring her shoulders, she headed for Gustave’s haunt. She could hear music from inside the caravan, and knew it was Dorffman, the German, playing his violin. He was supposed to be the circus’s chief carpenter, but ever since Gustave had uncovered Dorffman’s musical skills, he’d made him play every night as the circus owner ate. Rémy wondered what crime the man had committed to end up in this place. She liked him, he seemed nice, but it could be anything. Murder, maybe, although it was more likely to be theft…but everyone at Le Cirque de la Lune had their own story. One day she would ask, she decided, as she mounted the rickety painted steps to her master’s door. “Come!” Came the yell of his voice as she knocked. Inside, Gustave was at his dinner, tearing a whole roast chicken apart with his fat fingers. The sight of the grease trickling down over his knuckles turned Rémy’s stomach and made her forget that she hadn’t eaten since lunch, and then only a round of gritty, grey bread and dripping.

The circus owner glanced up at her. “The cloud is thick tonight. It is Friday, the police are tired after their long week,” he grunted. “But still, now is not the time.” She blinked, surprised. “No?”

“No,” Gustave rumbled around a mouthful of food. “You see, this is important. More important than any other job you’ve ever done. And so I want you to do a…reconnoitre. Find the best way in, determine where the guards are stationed and, more importantly, establish your escape route. Make the plan infallible, yes? You must not fail me, Rémy.” For a moment, Rémy was speechless. He’d never asked her to do reconnaissance before. And she had never, ever failed him. She had never even come close to failing. Seeing her indignation, Gustave sighed and put down his chicken. “You know where this jewel is being kept?” “In the Tower of London, master.”

“Yes,” he said, his voice dry. “The Tower of London. Make no mistake, my little thieving genius. However good you are, this is going to be the hardest thing you have ever tried. So, reconnaissance. There is to be a reception for the great and the good at the Tower tomorrow night. It is the perfect opportunity for you to learn everything you need to know about where the jewel is held. Now, tell me what you are looking for.” “The Darya-ye Noor,” Rémy huffed.

“And what are you not looking for?”

“The Koh-i Noor. I know.”

He snorted, sending flecks of grease and chicken flesh to pepper the table. “You think you know everything, do you not, little Rémy? Can you tell me the difference between the two?” Rémy sighed. Gustave had been lecturing her on this for weeks. As if she couldn’t tell one diamond from another. As if she hadn’t been born able to know the worth of a gem just by looking at it. Rémy remembered every precious stone she’d ever seen in her life, and she could feel all of them now as if she held them still. In her hands jewels were living things, and they seemed to like her. They fell towards her fingers gratefully. She knew them. The thief toyed with the opal around her neck absently, and recited Gustave’s lessons.

“The Koh-i Noor – the Mountain of Light – and the Darya-ye Noor – the Ocean of Light – are sister-stones. They were both mined from Golconda in India more than a century ago. Now Queen Victoria owns the Mountain of Light, and the Shah of Persia owns the Ocean of Light. And for the first time since they were both mined, the stones are back together. In the Tower of London. So that is why we are here.”

“And what do we want?”

“The ocean, not the mountain,” Rémy repeated, dutifully. Gustave’s pudgy, pasty face creased into a frown. “Remember that, Little Bird. The Ocean is smaller than the Mountain, but prettier. And it belongs to the Shah, not the Queen, so the good policemen of London will not care so much about it. Get in, take it, get out. That’s what you need to do when the time is right. Do not get distracted by the larger stone. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, master.”

He nodded slowly, and then held up the remains of his dinner’s carcass. “Do that, and there will be one of these for you. You can share it with that light-fingered friend of yours. And her strange little whelp, if you really do insist on feeding it.” Rémy held herself still, but she wanted to hit him. How dare he talk about Amélie like that? Just because she was different, just because she didn’t speak. How dare he – “Well?” Gustave bellowed. “What are you waiting for? Go!

Rémy gritted her teeth and left, slamming the door as she ran down the steps. The sound was masked by Dorffman and his mournful violin, the ripple of sad strings rising into the dead, wet night.

* * *

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