Monday, 15 October 2018

Jacob Starke Loves The Dark by Peta Rainford - Review


Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum, I am reviewing Peta Rainford's latest children's book, Jacob Starke Loves The Dark. I've read Peta's books before and I've always loved them, so when Peta contacted me to possibly review her newest book, I jumped at the chance. 

Jacob Starke Loves The Dark 

Are you afraid of THE DARK? Jacob Starke is. Jacob Starke is TERRIFIED! Until, that is, he gets to meet The Dark face-to-face and shares an amazing adventure through the wonders of the night sky.
Jacob Starke Loves The Dark is a charming rhyming picture book about being brave, outer space, loving plants and animals and the necessity of Dark Skies. An important environmental issue is tackled with beautiful illustrations, humour and a light touch.
Jacob Starke Loves The Dark is the sixth picture book written and illustrated by Peta Rainford. Her other books are Hairy Fairy, Jamie and the Joke Factory, Isabella Rotten Speller, Isabella’s Adventures in Numberland and The Niggle.

My Review
As I said in my intro, I've read a few of Peta's books before and I can honestly say that Jacob Starke Loves The Dark is officially my all time favourite of her books.

The artwork throughout (also illustrated by Peta) is absolutely gorgeous and fits so well with the tone and feel of the writing and story.

Confession time, yes I am a grown up, yes I am scared of the dark. It may seem silly to some, but I feel no shame, it's just what I happen to be scared of (and massive spiders!) Even though this book is aimed at children, I have to say it spoke to me as well as someone who is afraid of the dark. I loved how the reason Jacob is scared of the dark is explained as it's accurate. I also then love how important the dark is was explained and what happens because of the dark.

As usual, the rhyming is beautiful and the book is incredibly easy and fun to read, it's one that can be read over and over at bedtime.

I gave this book 5 stars.

About The Author
I was lucky enough to have Peta on my Getting To Know... feature and you can check that out here

Peta grew up on the Isle of Wight so long ago she can remember buying crisps from the school tuck shop for 21⁄2p. As a child she loved words, and loved drawing too, but she had no idea what she wanted to do when she grew up. She studied English at York University and then worked in London as a business journalist and editor for 14 years. She went to art classes and even studied fine art at St Martins, but she still had no idea what she wanted to do when she grew up. She moved back to the Isle of Wight in 2006, and it was here that Peta, now balancing the roles of freelance writer and mum, decided to write and illustrate her first book for children. It was a revelation: a way of combining picture making with her love of words – not to mention an outlet for her awful jokes. It may have taken more than four decades, but finally, Peta knows what she wants to do when she grows up.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Help The Witch by Tom Cox - Blog Tour Review


Life Of A Nerdish Mum is super excited to be part of the blog tour for Help The Witch by Tom Cox, a collection of weird and wonderful short stories. 

Help The Witch

Inspired by our native landscapes, saturated by the shadows beneath trees and behind doors, listening to the run of water and half-heard voices, Tom Cox s first collection of short stories is a series of evocative and unsettling trips into worlds previously visited by the likes of M. R. James and E. F. Benson.
Railway tunnels, the lanes and hills of the Peak District, family homes, old stones, shreds fluttering on barbed wire, night drawing in, something that might be an animal shifting on the other side of a hedge: Tom has drawn on his life-long love of weird fiction, folklore and nature's unregarded corners to write a collection of stories that will delight fans old and new, and leave them very uneasy about turning the reading lamp off.

My Review

I would firstly like to say just how absolutely stunning the cover is, if I was walking past this book in a bookshop I would buy it just on the basis of its cover without knowing another thing about it! Seriously just look at it. 

It seems to be tradition now that I read a collection of short stories around this time of year and I'm really glad that this year, Help The Witch came along. Each and every one of the stories is just as strong as the last. While reading I was trying to choose my favourite story like I would normally do, but I really struggled. So the one I chose to highlight was the one I thought was the most original and left me feeling uncomfortable as I read it, Listings. Listings is incredibly clever and it tells the story of a cave Goblin, a Tunk, through the medium of listings in a newspaper. Things like house lettings, lost pets and obituary's, give you small snippets of the story and the things that are happening in and around a house with a "cavern" underneath it. It's I think the shortest story in the book, but it's very impactful and the cleverness of it's telling rally stands out. 

There's such a wide range of topics in Help The Witch, it really keeps you interested. Though with short stories, you can read one story, put the book down and then come back at another time; with Help The Witch you want to keep seeing what the next story will be about and how it will be told. Because of this I ended up reading it all in just one sitting and I loved it. 

This is definitely a big recommendation from me and this time of year is the absolute perfect time to cuddle up in a blanket with a brew and this book. 

I gave this book 5 stars. 

About The Author


Tom Cox has written nine books, including the Sunday Times top ten bestseller The Good, The Bad And The Furry. His account of his year as Britain's most inept golf professional, Bring Me The Head Of Sergio Garcia, was long listed for the William Hill Sports Book Of The Year Award in 2007. Tom gave up writing for traditional media outlets in summer 2015 and now writes fiction and pieces about nature, folklore and the British countryside for his voluntary subscription website www.tom-cox.com. His last book, 21st Century Yokel - a nature book, but not quite like any you'll have read before - was the fastest ever book to fund with the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound, taking just seven hours.

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour



Monday, 8 October 2018

Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott - Blog Tour Review


Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum I am pleased to be part of the blog tour for something a little different, Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott. 

Dear Mr Pop Star

A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies
from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…

For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing deliberately deranged letters to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. They miss the point as often as they hit it.

But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back...

Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave's greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T’Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

My Review

Well I haven't laughed so much reading a book for a good long time, the humour of the letters and misunderstanding of song lyrics is right up my street! 

I loved the huge variety of musical genres this covered and the nostalgia feels it gave me, reading about songs, bands and artists that I haven't listened to or thought of for a long time. As I went through I had YouTube open and was listening to each song to reminisce and remember and this made it so much more of an interactive experience. That's actually how I'd describe this book, its not a read, it's an experience! 

I thought it was really well presented and I found it incredibly easy to read. If you needed to pop it down for adulting purposes, it is also easy to jump in and out of. 

I will probably revisit this book again in the future as I enjoyed it so much. I gave this book 5 stars. 

About The Authors

Derek and Dave Philpott are the noms de plume of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a worldwide social networking community.

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour



Sunday, 7 October 2018

The Black Prince by Adam Roberts and Anthony Burgess - Blog Tour Review


I'm super happy to be part of an exciting blog tour for The Black Prince. The Black Prince is written by Adam Roberts, based on a 90 page script written by Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange). 

The Black Prince

‘I’m working on a novel intended to express the feel of England in Edward III’s time ... The fourteenth century of my novel will be mainly evoked in terms of smell and visceral feelings, and it will carry an undertone of general disgust rather than hey-nonny nostalgia’ – Anthony Burgess, Paris Review, 1973
The Black Prince is a brutal historical tale of chivalry, religious belief, obsession, siege and bloody warfare.
From disorientating depictions of medieval battles to court intrigues and betrayals, the campaigns of Edward II, the Black Prince, are brought to vivid life by an author in complete control of the novel as a way of making us look at history with fresh eyes, all while staying true to the linguistic pyrotechnics and narrative verve of Burgess’s best work.

My Review

The minute I saw the cover and title of this book, I knew I wanted to read The Black Prince. The minute I found out that it was based on writings by Anthony Burgess, I knew I needed to read The Black Prince. This book has been one of my most highly anticipated books of this year. 

If you're of a squeamish disposition, this book is not the book for you. The war scenes are brutal, vicious, visceral, bloody and real. The writing really catches the horror of war. At times I found myself breathless reading the fight scenes as if I was taking part. I feel very much that this book will easily convert to a film! 

The Black Prince demands your attention as you read, as it jumps between poems and memories from different perspectives. It's all fascinating and extremely well done and once you get used to the rhythm changing up it is a really excellent read. It isn't an easy read, but its definitely worth the effort. 

I liked the fact that we got a darker and more realistic look at this time in history, as in a lot of historical books, you get a dulled down version which doesn't really reflect how things actually were. I also felt that this meant you were more invested in the story as you could actually picture it all, no matter how bad the scene was. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I was happy that the content lived up to the covers promise! 

I gave this book four stars. 

About The Authors
Adam Roberts

Adam Roberts is a writer, critic and academic. He is the author of sixteen novels and many shorter works, including the prize-winning Jack Glass (2012). His most recent novel is The Real-Town Murders (2017). He is Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, and has published critically on a wide range of topics, including nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction and science fiction. He lives in the south-east of England.

Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also a librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist. Born in Manchester, he lived for long periods in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England. His fiction includes the Malayan trilogy (The Long Day Wanes) on the dying days of Britain's empire in the East; the Enderby quartet of novels about a poet and his muse; Nothing Like the Sun, a recreation of Shakespeare's love-life; A Clockwork Orange, an exploration of the nature of evil; and Earthly Powers, a panoramic saga of the 20th century. He published studies of Joyce, Hemingway, Shakespeare and Lawrence, produced the treatises on linguistics Language Made Plain and A Mouthful of Air, and was a prolific journalist, writing in several languages. He translated and adapted Cyrano de Bergerac, Oedipus the King, and Carmen for the stage; scripted Jesus of Nazareth and Moses the Lawgiver for the screen; invented the prehistoric language spoken in Quest for Fire; and composed the Sinfoni Melayu, the Symphony (No. 3) in C, and the opera Blooms of Dublin.

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour



Monday, 1 October 2018

Monster Joke Month 2018 - Announcement, Ideas And A Prize!


It's time for the fourth annual Monster Joke Month!! Way back in 2015 I created the Monster Joke Month snail mail project and it has run every year since for the entirety of October. For those of you who are new, the basic idea is that every piece of mail that you send in October, you write a monster joke on the envelope! You then share the ones you send/receive on social media using the hashtag #MonsterJokeMonth and/or #MJM2K18. It's a bit of fun and I'm sure it may brighten up some postpersons day. If you'd like to go check out the original announcement, that's right here.

Do remember to use the hashtags though so I can see what people are sending and receiving. I like to do a round up of some of my favourite I've seen at the end of October. I will also be choosing my favourite monster joke and I will send the person who wrote it a prize!

I know not everyone sends snail mail on the regular, so I always give some ideas of how to join in - 

 - Sign up for a pen pal at IGGPPC (International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club) - there's nothing more satisfying than sending and receiving old school snail mail. Don't let the name fool you, both males and females are more than welcome! It's also a wonderful community and there's a lot more going on than just pen pals, so check it out! 

 - Send a note, card or letter to a friend or family to let them know you're thinking about them or just to say hi!

 - Sign up at Postcrossing. Postcrossing is a super fun service where you can send a postcard and then you receive a postcard in return (it's explained much better on their site!) I've received and sent postcards from China, USA, the Phillipines and Finland just to name a few of the places. 

 - Regardless of Monster Joke Month Post Pals is a wonderful charity that helps brighten the lives of sick children through the power of snail mail. (I know this is a UK based charity, but I'm sure there are similar charities in other countries).

 - Send a card or letter to a soldier. There are hundreds of sites where you can send a morale boosting letter to a soldier overseas and I'm sure they'd enjoy a good monster joke too!

- I discovered Donate A Letter this year and it's a wonderful idea, regardless of MJM, this is something people should get involved with. The idea is to write a letter to someone with cancer, whether you know them or whether a stranger to fill their mailboxes with positivity. The site explains everything and you can follow them on Twitter @frommetoyou01

These are just a few of the many, many ways you could join in on Monster Joke Month! If you have any other ideas though, please make sure to put them in the comments. Also let me know if you're planning on joining in, the more the merrier!

Don't forget to post your pics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and be sure to use the hashtags #MonsterJokeMonth and #MJM2K18 if you feel like tagging me, I'm @NerdishMum on both twitter and Instagram and my page is Life Of A Nerdish Mum on Facebook.

I can't wait to see all your jokes and the fun mail that you send this year!

Guess My Name With Veggies And Fruits by Liana Strat - Blog Tour Review


Today, Life Of A Nerdish Mum is kicking off the blog tour for Guess My Name With Veggies And Fruits, written by Liana Strat. I'm pleased to be able to share mine and mini Nerdling's thoughts on this fun and educational book.

Guess My Name With Veggies And Fruits

Help your little ones learn about fruits and vegetables with this delightful illustrated children's book, written by childcare expert Liana Strat.
These friendly faces will make new foods fun and engaging for young children.

Our Review

This book is a very fun way of teaching and reinforcing learning about fruits and vegetables. As a parent I enjoyed the clarity of each description and how it gave just enough information for the child to have a good guess as to what fruit or vegetable it was describing. I also liked the fact that it didn't cover just the more obvious ones like apple, banana, carrot etc, there was actually a really wide selection chosen.

Mini Nerdling really enjoyed that it was like a game and that I was giving him clues so he could guess what I was talking about. He also enjoyed then telling me which of the fruits and veggies he liked and didn't like and which ones he hadn't tried yet. (The timing of us reading it was perfect as school had just been covering taste and had done taste experiments so this helped expand the subject at home). He added that he really liked that the fruits and vegetables were all happy and smiling.

Overall this is a really enjoyable book for both child and adult. I feel it's educational without being dry or dull, making learning fun with making it a guessing game.

I gave this book 5 stars.

About The Author


Liana Strat is a Nanny with a Degree in Environment Protection, currently living and working in London. Originally from Romania, she moved to United Kingdom following a career in Childcare, after realising her passion for children. Inspired by the multitude of experiences encountered in this field and with a strong desire to give parents an extra tool for a good food education, she followed the path of writing.

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Mini Nerdling's Mischief Makers Summer Reading Challenge 2018 - Reviews


This year was the second year of Mini Nerdling taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge hosted by our local library. If you don't know what this is, it's an incentive to keep children reading throughout the six weeks holiday (summer holiday here in the UK), they have to read six books and give them a score out of three stars. As they go through they get rewards and stickers and there are other activities to keep it interesting. Once they complete it they get some goodies, a wristband, a medal and a certificate. If you want to find out more, the official website is here

As Mini Nerdling has helped me out with book reviews before, he knows I give my "score" out of five stars and he knows I have to write about what I thought of the book, so although there is only room to score out of three stars on the form, he wanted to do it the way I do it. I thought it would be fun to keep a record of his reviews and share them with everyone. It's also good practice for when he helps with reviews and for school in the future. So without further ado, onto the reviews - 


Animal Fun! Touch And Feel - Tracey Radford

My favourite part was the elephants and I enjoyed feeling the pages.

5 stars

In-o-saur, Out-o-saur - David Bedford and Leonie Worthington

My favourite part was the cover and I liked that it was the same as a page in the book.

5 stars

Fortunately, Unfortunately - Michael Foreman

My favourite part was the aliens.

5 stars

100 First Animals - Dawn Sirett

My favourite animal out of all of them was the snake.

5 stars

But Excuse Me That Is My Book - Lauren Child

I liked the first page when the brother and sister were sat reading together

5 Stars

Meg And Mog - Helen Nicoll and Jan PieĊ„kowski

I liked the witches and I liked the page when all the witches looked the same and I spotted the differences.

5 Stars


And that's it! What do you think? Do you think he did a good job, because I do but I am biased. Have you and you kids read any of these books? What did you think?


Sunday, 26 August 2018

The Beedog by Addie Broussard - Blog Tour Review


Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum, I am reviewing a fabulous children's book, The Beedog: An Insect Discovery In Portugal by Addie Broussard. 

The Beedog: An Insect Discovery In Portugal

An award-winning picture book that will get little ones excited about science.
While building a unique sandcastle, Cora and Manny spot a rather curious insect.
Soon, the little scientists keep a watchful eye on the insect’s movements, while learning about the natural environment along the way.
A great book for STEM education and home-school projects or just curious little ones who love science. Book extras include fun, printable activities related to science learning and research.
The Beedog is available to buy on Amazon US and Amazon UK
My Review

The Beedog is a really fun way to get your little one interested in paying more attention to the world around them. Manny and Cora head to the beach and discover an insect they haven't seen before and the story follows them researching what kind of insect it actually is as well as then sharing their new found knowledge with their school friends. 

The story is fun and shows the children playing as well as learning, showing a good balance. The illustrations are beautiful and the joy that comes off the pages, matches the tone of the story. 

The book is also filled with facts as the children learn about the "Beedog" and there are resource references included if you wanted to go and find out more, including a video of the insect itself. I like the inclusion of information about other wasps and at the beginning there is some information about Portugal and the language used. 


The activities that are free to download are all excellent and cover a range of skills and topics. I particularly enjoyed the I Love Nature page encouraging children to go outside and find something that they can come home and research. I also liked the page with questions about Portugal. There is something for everyone though with colouring, drawing and exercise pages too. 

Overall a really wonderful book and resource and one I will be going back over with mini Nerdling and we will be completing some of the worksheets more than once they're that much fun (and educational). 

I gave this book 5 stars.


About The Author


Addie is an avid traveller, and once went on a solo journey to fifteen countries in one year. When she encounters something unique, she writes about it. Her first published picture book, The Beedog, is about a curious insect that she found in southern Portugal.
Addie began her writing journey when she was just nine years old, with a book called Doggienauts. That book has been updated and is set for publication in 2018. Addie is originally from the United States and is currently a full-time traveller. Home is where her suitcase is.

About The Illustrator - Joyeeta Neogi


Joyeeta is a children’s book illustrator who has worked with international authors and publishers. Her engagement with worldwide clients and multicultural themes has allowed her to create captivating original animal and child characters. Her art captures the expressions, movements and vibrancy of life within simple compositions to bring the author’s story to life. In her free time, Joyeeta is busy with painting and music. She loves to paint in oil and acrylic, and has also developed a passion for watercolour.

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour



Thursday, 23 August 2018

Local Library - Zoolab Session


Today's post is another one talking about a super fun activity that we participated in over the summer holiday and that I wanted to share with people. As you can probably tell from the header/title I'll be talking about a Zoolab session myself and Nerdish Dad went to with the Nerdling's.

This year our local library, really knocked it out of the park with the activities that they had scheduled throughout the holidays. One of them we went to which I won't be blogging about because it was only a mini session, was a Mad Science session where the children could make slime! When I saw the animal handling session with Zoolab, I got the Nerdling's booked in immediately (tickets were only £1!!)

In our library there is a separate room which is the children's library and this is where they hold any of the sessions aimed at children. We got there early and got ourselves seats and I'm glad we did as it was very well attended. There was room for everyone, but I wanted a good spot for the pram.

Our Ranger was called Laura and she instantly took control of the room and had the children sat down and quiet, with no effort at all, which is incredibly impressive with a room full of excited children! She gave the low down on being quiet so as not to worry the animals and how important it was to wash our hands after touching any animals and she promised stickers at the end as long as the children promised to wash their hands.

I wish I could tell you word for word the whole story that Laura told to introduce each of the animals that she brought out, but the short version is that the animals had heard about Hippos (I'm pretty sure it was Hippos) that were in need, so they decided to enter a talent competition at the carnival down the road so that they could send them things they needed.

The first animal that came out was a Madagascan Hissing Cockroach. In the talent contest the cockroach had eaten all the cakes in the baking competition! The cockroach the children were handling, Luna, was actually heavily pregnant and I have been reliably informed by Laura herself that she had her babies that very night!!


The second animal that came out was a Chilean Rose Tarantula. The children couldn't handle the tarantula as they were very nervous and we didn't want to stress them out, but Laura showed them round and made sure everyone had a good look. In the story, the tarantula was throwing balls through hoops and had heard a whispery voice, giving them hints as to how to win. 


The next animal we learnt about was a white tree frog, now this we definitely couldn't handle because they tried to escape the minute Laura opened the lid. Can you imagine the carnage of loads of kids trying to catch an escaping frog!! Again though we got a really good look and the story continued with the frog taking part in the singing competition. 


The final animal was my absolute favourite and he was absolutely gorgeous! He was a corn snake called Ozzy. He wasn't the usual gold colour either, he was a silver and it was beautiful. The kids at this point needed a reminder to keep quiet so Ozzy didn't get stressed, but considering how long we'd been there, they'd all done really well. 


Throughout the session we learnt loads of facts about each animal and it was done it such a wonderful way, the children wouldn't have even noticed that they were learning. As an adult I loved the story and it really kept everyone engaged and it certainly made me at least laugh out loud more than once! 

I'm really hoping the library keep up with the excellent bookings that they have been making as I'm loving the fun and education it's providing for the Nerdling's. If you get chance to go to a Zoolab session, I would 100% recommend that you do because they are incredibly interesting and fun no matter how old you are! 

As an aside, I was so proud of mini Nerdling as originally he didn't want to touch the animals at all. He then agreed to at least stroke them, but when the animals started to come out, he was so excited and wanted to hold all of them and did a really good job of it as you can see above! 

For more information about Zoolab, check out their website - here!



Saturday, 18 August 2018

Na na na na na na na na BAT WALK!


Hi everyone! I know it's been a while and I'm still supposed to be on "maternity" from my blog, but I've been missing it and I've been to a few events recently that I really wanted to share. 

The first event I want to talk about is a Bat Walk that I participated in on Wednesday the 15th of August at Bold Venture Park in Darwen, Lancashire. 

Each summer I plan out as many things as I can for Mini Nerdling and me to do, in my search I saw an advertisement for a Bat Walk and initially wrote it down on my plan as something for us both to do. As the time got closer, I decided that I fancied doing it by myself so I could leave the kids with Nerdish Dad - You can tell I haven't blogged for a month, I'm rambling so bear with me. 

Anyhoo, the day of the walk came and on and off it had been absolutely pouring down with rain. A few people had asked on the event page whether it was still going ahead or not and I was watching the sky, I even googled if bats can fly in the rain! (They can but prefer not to as it gets their fur wet and it makes them cold and it's harder to fly, in case you were interested). The confirmation came through that it was good to go, so I set off early as they'd advised there would be minimal places. I'm glad I did, as there was between 40 and 50 people who came, a couple of them had even travelled all the way from Chorley to come and take part. There were children there, which was nice to see. The people running the event were surprised at the turn out considering the weather. 

Once we'd all gathered, the bat expert and owner of an amazing moustache, Paul Robinson of South Lancashire Bat Group, started off with a talk about bats and gave us some basic information. There are 18 species of  bats in the UK, but these are all from just two families. He reassured us that all UK bats only eat insects and none of them were vampire bats (though vampire bats only feed off cattle and the like as humans are too twitchy haha!) It was really fascinating, learning things like bats have to drop to fly, they can't just take off from the ground. I'd never really considered anything like that. Paul did promise us that he'd try and name all 18 species of bat, I know he got to 13, so I'm still waiting on the final 5. 

It had rained on and off till this point, so we were warned, that we may very well not see much due to the weather, but we moved up under the trees, closer to the large pond/lake. While under the trees, Paul told us about the kinds of roosts that bats prefer and how bats sometimes (rarely) end up in your house by accident, usually if it's their first time out the roost and they can't remember which entrance it is to get back in. He also told us that bats actually don't cause any damage to your home as they don't chew. I always thought they were a "nuisance". 

One of my favourite things I learnt was about a lone, male, Greater Mouse-Eared Bat that hibernates down south every year. When doing the count, bat conservationists have to go out and just count him. Apparently he's at least 25 years old and they're not entirely sure where in Europe he flies in from, just that he's right on the edge of his range. Such a brilliant tale! 

Onto the bats!!! We saw absolutely loads. It was amazing watching them dart about, right above our heads and it was unbelievable just how fast they move. I was surprised to learn that bats actually have quite good eyesight, they just don't use it! Using echo location though, they can "see" a stick and the leaf that's on that tree and then the teeny tiny bug that's on that leaf! The Bat Team (that's what I'm calling them) took out some detectors and we could listen to the bats at work. I really enjoyed listening and trying to separate out the two different types of "click" that were happening as there were two different kinds of bats flying around us. Above us were Pipistrelle bats, which are the most common type of bat and then above the water was what I think were Brandt's bats...though I didn't hear clearly, so if I'm wrong, please let me know in the comments if you were there, or just know more about bats than me. 

We went to two further spots following the first to see more bats and we were so lucky that even with the weather, there were so many out and so active. Overall this was an absolutely excellent event and all for the price of a small donation (whatever you could donate) to bat preservation on arrival. I'm really hoping more events are put on like this locally in the future. 



Friday, 13 July 2018

Artemis by Andy Weir - Blog Tour Review


Life Of A Nerdish Mum is very excited to be a part of the blog tour for the paperback and ebook release of Artemis by Andy Weir. 

Artemis

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of Jazz's problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself - and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even more unlikely than the first.

My Review

Wow! Artemis certainly gets started with a bang and had me on the edge of the seat from pretty much page one. I loved that the action got started straight away and swept me up into the story effortlessly. 

Jazz is a fabulous character, just the kind of main character I enjoy reading. She's sarcastic, intelligent, hard working and a bit of a badass. Jazz very much made me think that Artemis is more YA-ish than The Martian, I think because I've read a lot of YA with a strong female protagonist recently, she fits perfectly in with them. However there was just as much science throughout Artemis as there was in The Martian, but don't worry if you don't have PhD in chemistry, you can read it or skim and you'll still be following the story. 

Andy Weir has done an excellent job at world building. I really think having an author with so much knowledge about the subject they are writing about shows through in the world. I have wanted to read a moon based story for a long time and this really hit the spot for me. I could picture it all perfectly and the science and explanations for how things worked just made it very realistic. 

The pacing was excellent throughout and kept me wanting to read just a bit more. The ending let me down a little bit as it felt a bit rushed, but it was still thoroughly enjoyable and I felt it fit with the rest of the book. 

Overall a really engaging and enjoyable read and one I have recommended to others already. 

I gave this book 4 stars. 

About The Author


ANDY WEIR built a career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, THE MARTIAN, allowed him to live out his dream of writing fulltime. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects such as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California. Andy’s next book, ARTEMIS, is available now.

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour



Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Catching Love When It Falls by Deryn Pittar - Blog Tour Guest Post


Today I am part of the blog tour for Catching Love When It Falls by Deryn Pittar, a romance with a difference. I have a guest post to share in which Deryn Pittar talks more about the creation of Belinda and the world the story is set in. 

Catching Love When It Falls

William and Belinda, both genetically altered, meet years after leaving the government-rearing nursery. Their late development allowed them to escape a life devoted to the government's defence departments. If their skills are now discovered they will be conscripted and never be free again. 

William’s talent is to move through space between locations in the blink of an eye. Belinda can lift objects of great weight with her mind. Their relationship creates a raft of problems both struggle to overcome. 

‘Catching Love When it Falls’ explores an alternative reality and discovers the one thing neither Belinda nor William can control - love. 

More About Main Character Belinda by Deryn Pittar

The character of Belinda grew very rapidly in my mind, far quicker than William had. I could see her: petite, blond curls, stubborn and fiercely loyal and protective of her adopted mother.

Again the prologue shows Belinda at the Nursery, off in a corner of the playground, quietly mastering her talent of being able to lift and catch things with her mind. She’s nearly seven and is determined to be released for adoption. In the novel she has a career as a landscape gardener, a love of plants and her talent means she is able to lift heavy materials with ease, but she does this very discreetly. She also has a protective barrier she erects which rebuffs anyone approaching her with serious intent. Uninterested ‘normals’ can walk right through it, but Defense Department agents or other g-alters cannot get close. William comes across this on their first meeting and is determined to overcome it.

She is a reluctant participant in this romance. She has no wish to be wooed. She likes her life and wants to continue to live with and protect her mother since her father’s death.

I set this story in Melbourne, in the suburbs I am familiar with. Belinda’s home is mirrored from my memories of my aunt’s garden and the suburb she lived in. Her travels with William are set in places I have visited.
A couple of quirky characters enter Belinda’s life once she meets William.  Her mother likes him a lot, which helps William’s cause when he upsets Belinda by jumping with her. Never mind he had a very good reason for doing so.  ‘Not amused’ would be an understatement. Their romance could bring them to the attention of the Defense Department and Belinda is determined this won’t happen.

About The Author


I write futuristic and fantasy fiction, spiced with romance and adventure. This allows my imagination to run free, to create interesting characters caught in unusual circumstances and events. Sometimes I have the pleasure of watching science and technology catch up with my imagination.
I also write Young Adult, short stories and flash fiction; articles on writing and I am published in these genre. I self-published a children’s rhyming book and once won a prize for a short screen script.
I’m a published poet and I endeavour to put my poetry skills into my fiction writing to enhance the word pictures I create.
I live in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand which lives up to its name. I belong to the Romance Writers of N.Z., Tauranga Writers, and Spec.Fic.NZ (speculative fictionNZ).
Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour


The Movers Series Release Dates

Love's Bright Star - 19th June
Love's Red Heart - 26th June
A Stellar Affair - 3rd July
Romancing the Memory Collector - 10th July
5 book box set - 7th August

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Stripey Enid by Natasha Lea - Blog Tour Review


Today is Life Of A Nerdish Mum's stop on the blog tour for Stripey Enid by Natasha Lea. This unique children's book will be published on the 16th of June.

Stripey Enid

‘Believe in yourself, for you are unique!’

In this ever-changing world our children are bombarded with ‘image’ driven ideals of what is accepted as normal, or what we should aspire to be.

The reality is we are all unique and should be proud of it.

Stripey Enid has no colour or creed, she is just a friend. Using simple verse and interactive tasks, she aims to help your child understand that it is good to be unique, and that being yourself is all you need to be.


My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed Stripey Enid. The first time I read through this with my nearly five year old mini Nerdling, we concentrated on just reading through the story and finding what the book was about. We both really enjoyed the rhyming words (mini Nerdling has been learning about these in school, so it was perfectly timed) and how easily they all flowed.

The story alone encouraged discussion as I like both fish and chips and sausage and gravy, whereas mini Nerdling thinks they are both "gross"! We talked abut how it was fine to like different things to other people and how it's good that we are all different. The language used, is also not "dumbed down" to talk to children and so there were some words, such as unique, that mini Nerdling could ask the meaning of which is a great way for children to learn.

The interactivity in the book was both interesting and fun and it was suitable for a wide range of age ranges. My favourite section was thinking about "My Good Points". This really made both me and mini Nerdling think and concentrate on what are the good things about us. I loved listening to his logic and thinking and he came up with so many we needed more paper to add more. I think one of his best was that "one of my good points is that my eyes are blue and that's good because it is my favourite colour".

Stripey Enid is really well illustrated and I thought the colours (or lack thereof) were well used. This may be a small book, but I think it makes a big impact. I also feel that any parents reading this with their children will benefit from it too, not just by enjoying watching their child get involved and think about how they form friendships and how they think about themselves, but by making them think more about them specifically, especially what are their good points!

Overall an excellent book and one I will enjoy reading over with mini Nerdling, I've also borrowed a quote from inside as a personal inspiration in my bullet journal.

I gave this book 5 stars

About The Author


It was over 10 years ago, during a marketing exercise to promote a new theatre company whilst studying Performing Arts, that the idea of Stripey Enid came to Natasha. 

Even back then, Stripey was seen to be different, something to challenge the norm, ask questions of people.

The idea of writing a book was never the intention but a natural progression on from the poems Natasha used to create for friends and family for birthdays & special occasions. 

At the time Natasha was also working with a local Brownie pack and it was this interaction that made her realise that she was an adult in these children’s lives that wasn’t a parent or a teacher but a friend, a unique friendship that benefited both parties.

Stripey came into being by the pure belief that Natasha had about peer pressure & social demands creating barriers between people, stopping people from seeing others as they truly are.


Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour 


Monday, 30 April 2018

A Free Short Story To Celebrate The Release Of Needle Song by Russell Day


Today to celebrate the release of Russell Day's debut novel, Needle Song, I am one of the very lucky people to be sharing a short story featuring Doctor James Slidesmith, the main character in Needle Song.

Not Talking Italics


By


Russell Day

A Slidesmith Short Story



Fahrenheit Press

#1

…at three fifteen a.m. Present are James Slidesmith, Detective Constable Stephen Barker and, myself, Detective Sergeant Christopher Wade. For the benefit of the tape, Mister Slidesmith would you-


Doctor.


I’m sorry?


It’s Doctor Slidesmith, not Mister.


My apologies. For the benefit of the tape, Doctor Slidesmith-


No italics.


I’m sorry?


You know, when you write something down you put it in italics to give it a certain inflection, make it sound sarcastic or patronising maybe. I hold a PhD in Psychology. So, just Doctor. No italics.


Doctor Slidesmith, for the benefit of the tape, will you confirm that you have been given the opportunity to seek legal counsel but, have chosen to waive that right at the present time.


Yes, I have waived the right to have a legal representative present during this interview.


Okay, would you care to tell myself and DC Barker what happened last night at number, five Elton Avenue.


Let’s see, me and Yakky got there around about quarter past ten.


Yakky being Andrew Miller, it that correct?


Yes.


Mister Miller works for you?


He tattoos at my shop and I take a percentage. Technically he’s self-employed.


Okay, go on.


We pulled up around quarter past, we were running a bit late ‘cos Yak’s bike was playing up again. They’d started without us. And it was already going sour.


Going sour?


Yes, going sour. Good use of italics. We’d been told we’d being playing limited-raise. When we got there, they were playing pot-limit.


And that was a problem?


You play Texas Hold Em’ at all Sergeant, you a poker man?


I know the rules.


How about Constable Barker there, no? Alright, for the benefit of Constable Barker and the tape, when you play Texas Hold ‘Em, the betting takes place in rounds and the players take turns. The first bet is compulsory and it’s for a pre-agreed amount, the second bet doubles it. That’s compulsory too. This is to get the pot started. From then on, if you want to stay in for that particular hand, you have to match the previous bet. If you think your cards are going to beat everyone else’s, then you’re going to want a bigger pot. So, you raise. If the game’s limited-raise the pot can only grow so fast, it limits the value of each hand. Limits what you can lose in one go. Pot-limit is slightly different, the max amount you can raise, is the size of the pot currently on the table.

Now, Constable, I’ll give you a piece of invaluable advice. Do not, I repeat not, take pot-limit poker games lightly. People hear the term no-limit and promptly wet themselves ‘cos they think they’re about to lose all their hard earned, and most likely they are. In a lot of no-limit games, hands are lost just because people can’t match the last bet. You can be holding five elevens, and still lose. But … people tend to do that once. They go in, all Johnny-Big-Bollocks, lose that week’s wages and the next month’s rent, then go home and cry about it. It’s not something a lot of people do twice. Now, if you looking to take someone to the cleaners, then no-limit’s all well and good, but if want a cash cow, a nice little Friesian that’s going to roll up for milking time and time again, you need pot-limit. Isn’t that right Sergeant?


I wouldn’t know.


Really? I thought you might. Nice watch by the way. Rolex?


Fake. Made in China.


Very convincing, looks real from here. They’re clever these Chinse. Sorry, lost my train of thought, Oh yeah, pot limit.

Most people, at least most westerners, aren’t too good at maths. If there’s a few people playing, and there were five of us last night, pot-limit can increase the value of each hand very, very quickly. But, a lot of people won’t notice that. Take someone’s wages and their Rolex—fake or otherwise—in one hit and they tend to remember. When it’s delicately taken away bit by bit over the course of a whole night, they don’t tend to feel the loss so keenly. So, maybe your Friesian heads back for another try. Isn’t that right Sergeant?


So, why didn’t you walk away from the table?


I would have done, if Li hadn’t been there.


That would be Ms Li Chang?


That’s right.


She works at your shop too, is that right?


She’s my apprentice, learning the ink.


And you had no idea she’d be there?


That’s right Sergeant. Only, I had No-Idea without the italics.


You weren’t aware she played poker?


A lot of people play poker, apparently you play poker, that doesn’t mean I expect to find them sitting next to Billy Sinclair shuffling a pack of cards.


She didn’t mention it to you at work?


If you were playing poker with Billy Sinclair, would you tell your boss?


Okay, so you decided to stay and play with Billy Sinclair and Ms Chang. Was Mister Miller happy to play too?


No, Yakky dropped out. He just stayed to watch.


Just watch.


That’s right. Nice italics by the way.


You think this is some sort of joke? A man’s died in case you’re forgotten.


According to your Rolex—sorry fake Rolex—it’s now three twenty-four in the a.m. The wee small hours, when the human body is at its lowest ebb. I’d say by now, two men have died.


Did you know Ms Chang had a criminal record when you took her on?


Of course I did. Anyway, she was up front about it.


It didn’t put you off employing her?


She served her time. And it’s not everyone can say that, is it fellas?


What’s that meant to mean?


I’m saying she’s paid her debt.


The man she stabbed might argue with that.


If she’d stabbed him two years earlier, she’d have been too young to have it on her permanent record and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.


You think she was being abused?


I think we’ve all got history, Sergeant. That all I’m saying.


Shall we get back to the events of last night? You said there were five people present, is that correct?


Not quite, there were six people. five of them, including me, were playing cards.


Who were they?


Myself, Li and of course Billy Sinclair were at the table with two other players. Yakky was somewhere behind me, watching.


Who were the other two?


I don’t know their names. One of them was the Bumper.


And the final man?


He was the guy who wasn’t meant to see the sucker.


And for the benefit of the tape?


But not for you, eh?


Just tell us what you mean, Doctor Slidesmith.


And we’re back to the italics. There’s an old saying about poker: if you can’t see the sucker, it’s you.


So, this guy was the sucker?


He was meant to be, well, we all were. Aside from Billy of course and the Bumper.


Doctor Slidesmith, for the benefit of the tape, would you explain what the term Bumper means.


Let’s suppose we three were having a game of poker, and Constable Barker is sitting there with a royal flush. That’s the top hand, Constable in case you don’t know, as good as it gets, cannot be beat. Only problem is the pot is next to nothing. You’ve got the best hand possible but all it’s going to get you is loose change. What would you do, Constable?


When it’s my turn to bet I raise as high as I can?


Why not tell him why you’re shaking your head, Sergeant Wade?


The thing is Barker, if you make a big raise you’re telling people you have something worth betting on. So, unless they’re holding something pretty good, they’ll just fold.


So, what you need is a Bumper. Let’s say you ask your friend Sergeant Wade here—oh, now don’t look like that, I’m sure he’s lovely—you ask Sergeant Wade to keep bumping up the stakes for you, a little bit at a time. You don’t need to raise at all, with each round you just put in enough to stay in the game.

Now, of course, I don’t know you’ve made this arrangement. I’m just seeing two players betting cautiously, as if they’re sitting on moderately good cards. So, I keep on playing, and if I’m a sucker, I d on’t notice that the pot’s growing fat on my money.

That can go on for quite a while. Particularly if I’m holding what looks like a decent chance, the big casino sitting on a flush, say, or the dead man’s hand. And bad players quite often bet on mediocre cards, especially if they’ve put a lot in the pot already.


What are-


The big casino is the ten of diamonds, Constable. The dead man’s hand is two eights and two aces.


Well, well Sergeant Wade, it sounds like you know a bit more than just the rules.


Who was the sucker?


I told you I don’t know. He was a bloody awful card player though. He even had a lucky charm.


A lot of people have lucky charms.


People either have lucky charms or skill. I’ve yet to see a poker player with both. Anyway, not only did he have a lucky charm … he tapped it against the table when he had a good hand.


He had a tell.


Dozens. He had more give-aways than Father Christmas.


And you don’t know who he was?


Never seen him before.


And the other man, the Bumper?


Never seen him either. Barely saw him when he was there if you know what I mean.


No, I don’t.


He was good at blending into the background. He was like a coat of beige paint.


Come in… For the benefit of the tape, WPC Gillian Web has entered the room at three thirty-seven a.m.


Can I speak to you outside for a moment?


Pausing interview at three thirty-eight.

#2

Interview with James Slidesmith, re-commencing at three fifty-nine a.m. Doctor Slidesmith, does the name Matthew Dolan mean anything to you?


Nothing.


It seems Mister Dolan was the sucker. One of the Doctors at the trauma unit thought he recognised him. They pulled up his medical records and his widow has just confirmed ID. You were right, two men are dead.


It wasn’t much of a deduction. He’d lost a lot of blood before the ambulance got there.


A fair amount of that blood was found on Mister Miller’s hands and clothing. Substantial amounts on Ms Chang as well.


Li was beside him when the bottle went in. Sit near a served artery and your dry-cleaning bills get out of hand.


You told me Mister Miller was sitting behind you. He was covered in blood but you weren’t.


Yakky jumped in to do some first aid and I stayed out of the way.


You we’re happy to let him bleed? I thought you were a Doctor.


Doctor of psychology. I leave the organic stuff to other people.


People like Mister Miller.


He knows more about first aid than I do.


So, after Mister Dolan was stabbed you stepped aside while Mister Miller gave first aid. What time was this?


I couldn’t say exactly. I’d estimate a little after midnight.


You called the ambulance?


That’s right.


The dispatcher’s log records the time of your call as twelve thirty-seven a.m. That’s more than a little after midnight. Why the delay?


It took me a while to find a phone.


You didn’t have a phone with you?


No.


What about Mister Miller or Ms Chang?


Yakky and I didn’t take our phones. Billy Sinclair didn’t allow mobile phones at his table. Rules of the game. Both our phones are back in my flat. Why don’t you call the search team you’ve got there, they’ll confirm it.


Ms Chang?


Li was at the table so I assumed she wasn’t holding a mobile either.


You assumed?


She was helping to stem Mister Dolan’s blood loss. It wasn’t the time to ask if she had a phone I might borrow.


So, you sat and watched?


No, I went through Billy Sinclair’s pockets. I figured he’d still have his phone on him, it being his table and all.


And did he?


Yeah, it was in the back pocket of his trousers. Last one I checked because he’d landed on his back and I had to roll him over to get to it.


Searching Mister Sinclair’s dead body didn’t trouble you at all?


All the troubles I’ve had over the years have been handed to me by the living not the dead.


Billy Sinclair must have had a lot of pockets if it took you thirty minutes to go through them.


It took a couple of minutes. But his phone was locked, so even after I found it I couldn’t use it. I tore round the house looking for a landline.


You looked around the whole house?


Yeah. That’s why your forensic team’s going to find my prints all over the place.


Did you find a landline?


No. In the end I ran out the house and started banging on doors. No one wanted to answer.


Why not?


I’m guessing Billy wasn’t a very neighbourly person. When you start interviewing people, I think they’ll tell you he wasn’t too considerate about keeping the noise down and wasn’t too pleased if people complained. I burst out of his house at gone midnight and started shouting the odds. It took a while to find someone willing to talk to me.


So, you’re at a table where a man has just had an artery served. While he’s spraying blood over Mister Miller and Ms Chang, you conduct a body search and a body roll, on a man who’s just been shot. And yet your hands are totally … clean.


Again: good use of italics.


You’re not as funny as you think, or as clever. Three pairs of black latex gloves were found in your jacket pocket. Care to explain that?


I’m a tattooist, I use latex gloves when I work. Black’s the favoured colour because they hide smears of blood and ink. It saves upsetting squeamish clients.


And you took three pairs to Billy Sinclair’s house because?


I ride a nineteen seventy-eight Sportster. When you ride a machine getting on for forty years old, you expect to be fixing things by the side of the road from time to time. Latex gloves keep my hands … clean.


Did you wear a pair of these gloves when you searched the body?


No.


I think you did. I think that’s why your hands don’t have any blood on them. Or any powder burns from the shot gun.


I didn’t need to put gloves on, and when you get the lab reports, they’ll tell you my prints are all over Billy Sinclair’s phone. He took both barrels right between the eyes. He’d have been dead before he landed and dead people don’t tend to bleed. The mess was behind him, it wasn’t dripping into his pockets, it was dripping down the wall. The reason there’s no powder burns on my hands is simpler still. I didn’t fire the gun.


When WPC Web asked me to step outside a moment ago she didn’t just inform me that Dolan was dead. She told me the team currently at Sinclair’s property reported finding a pair of black Latex gloves, with blood on them.


Cool Hand Luke.


What?


Bad poker players, guys that remember winning once but forget a dozen losses, they have a favourite film. It’s either The Cincinnati Kid or Cool Hand Luke. With you it’s Cool Hand Luke, the bit where Paul Newman’s got a handful of bugger all and bluffs his way into a win. You can only bluff certain people at certain times. And, Sergeant, your bluffs are as clear as glass.


So, tell me what happened.


We’d been playing for about an hour and a half. In my experience that’s when the sharks come out to play and feeding time starts. Most players can’t play well for that long, they think they can but they’re wrong.


So?


So, I started cranking it up a little. Since I’d made the Bumper, I kept my eye on him. I couldn’t spot the signal he was getting to start upping the pot but I could see when he started betting and when Billy held back. Dolan was building up the pot quite nicely. So was Li. They were both losing money hand over fist.


That bothered you?


Li works for me, I know what I pay her and I know what she can’t afford to lose. Once she’d lost all her stake money, and that was more than a month’s earnings, Billy said he’d open a line of credit. That bothered me, a lot. It bothered Yakky too.


Does he have the hots for her?


Yakky’s not as mean as he looks, he’s got a weakness for lost souls. They bring out his maternal side.


What happened?


I told Li she’d do well to fold her cards and call it a night. Billy reminded her how much she’d just tipped into the pot and said it would be a shame to give it up without a fight.


How much was in the pot at that point?


Just short of three thousand. Of that Billy had put in less than two hundred. I’d largely coasted it but Dolan and Li had followed the Bumper and had both put in about a kay.


You thought that was enough?


It’s never enough if you stand to win. I don’t know what Billy had but I was holding David, Alexander, Julius and Charles.


What-


He means he had four kings, Constable.


I was happy to let the hand carry on. I win, I keep the pot and use a chunk of it to pay off any debt Li might be about run up with Billy. If I’m feeling greedy I just buy the debt and stop it from her wages. Either way it’s in my interest to keep the pot going.


Yakky, doesn’t know what I’m thinking and tells Li to walk away. Billy doesn’t like him butting in and tell him to shut it. Li is getting pissed off at me and Yakky, for telling her what to do. She tells both of us she can take care of herself and then tells Sinclair she’ll take the credit. Billy takes out this address book, he handles it with a certain flair, pale blue leather and obviously very expensive. Then he pulls out a fountain pen, opens the book at C and, very carefully, writes Li’s name down.

The games still on. Three more rounds, by now its big money just to stay in and Dolan’s nerve finally breaks. He folds then the bumper bows out and I tell Billy I’ll see him.


And you nail him with your picture show?


Yeah. He is not a happy bunny at this point. Yakky puts his oar in again and tells Li she should walk away, again. Billy tells him to shut the fuck up. The atmosphere is not what you’d call pleasant. Little-Boy-Beige sitting all alone starts getting a bit jittery and drops his cards. Trouble is they land face up and Dolan sees what he’s been betting against for the last twenty minutes.


And it looks wrong?


Very wrong, Mister Bump was holding nothing. Dolan was a lousy player but he wasn’t green. He twigged he’d been set up. He looks at the Bumper’s cards then at Billy and it’s obvious all hell is about to break loose. I should have just walked away there and then.


Why didn’t you?


The pot. There was over seven grand on the table by then. And it was mine.


Dolan didn’t see it that way?


No. To be fair, he didn’t know who was who at that point. As far as he could tell, everyone at that table was in on the trick. I go to take my winnings and he stands up and tells me to keep my hands off. I tell him okay and back off, but he’s working himself into a state. There was bottle of Scotch on the table, best Hollywood traditions and all that. Dolan grabs it, smashes it on the edge of the table, then walks around to Billy calls him a cheating piece of shit.


What are your people doing all this time?


My people?


Mister Miller and Ms Chang.


Me and Yakky were having a lad’s night out playing some cards. Li being there was a surprise. They’re not my people.


Alright, so what were Mister Miller and Ms Li doing?


Li was trying to edge away from the table. Yakky was behind me, so I couldn’t say what he was doing. Probably bricking it, same as me.


And Billy?


He was laughing. Laughing at the sucker. It didn’t do anything to improve the situation.


If Dolan’s the one holding the broken bottle how did he come to get cut?


Billy and Dolan were to my right. The Bumper was on my left, putting him almost opposite them. And he wasn’t only bumping, he was playing body guard. That’s partly what tipped me off that he was on Billy’s pay role. I couldn’t see Billy Sinclair having people in his drum and not having a heavy at hand.


The way you describe him, this Bumper doesn’t sound like a heavy.


Well, pulling a gun lent weight to his point of view.


So, tell me, how is it Dolan ends up bleeding out with a chunk of glass in his neck and Billy Sinclair gets a face full of shot from his own man?


As I say, the Bumper’s a smallish guy but the gun he’s holding makes up for that. He leans across the table, over all that money, and tells Dolan to put the bottle down. Dolan does as he’s told. He puts the bottle on the table, moves slow, keeps his hands where Bumper can see them. He wasn’t stupid.

When Billy stands up, the avuncular river-boat-gambler act is over. He sucker-punches Dolan in the ribs, folds him in two, then takes hold of the bottle. Dolan was doubled over with his head almost on the table. Billy grabs his hair, I think he was planning to give him a few scars to remember the evening by.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to kill him. But Dolan was panicking and thrashing about. He twisted at the wrong moment. Instead of his face, the bottle goes into his neck. That’s where Li picked up most of the blood stains. It was like a hose pipe. A fair amount of it goes over the Bumper too.

Dolan’s still thrashing about and, by chance, grabs the barrels of the gun. I expect Bumper just tugged on reflex, only his finger’s on the trigger. Boom, he’s unemployed. And very unlikely to get a reference.


So, it was all a big mistake?


That how it appeared to me. But what does it matter? It’s too late to say sorry, they’re both dead.


Then what?


When Billy got shot he went over backwards and let go of Dolan’s hair. Dolan slides off the table and that’s when Yakky started doing his Florence Nightingale act. We didn’t notice what he’d done to his knee until later.


And the Bumper, and you?


Neither of us moved for a second. Rabbits in the headlights, you know? Then Bumper looks at what’s left of his boss and starts moving again. Once he’d got his wiggle on I unfroze too, but I didn’t do anything other than watch him for a moment. For all I knew he was about to reload.


But he didn’t?


No. He pulled out a handkerchief and tried to wipe the gun down. I don’t know how well he did it. Then he dropped it on the floor and started stuffing my bloody winnings into his pockets, when they were filled he stuffed the rest down his shirt front.


And you let him?


He didn’t look like he’d be easily dissuaded at that point. Anyway, once I was happy he wasn’t about to start putting the witnesses away I was more concerned with finding a phone.


That was when you went through Billy’s clothes?


No. At first, I was looking around the room for the landline that didn’t exist. I didn’t think of checking Billy’s body until I saw Bumper go over to him and take that fancy blue address book out of his pocket.


And this Bumper character disappeared?


I heard the front door slam.


So, he just left, covered in blood, carrying seven large in cash?


Yep. All the cash … and Billy’s little blue book.


We’ve yet to find anyone to corroborate this story. None of Mister Sinclair’s neighbours report seeing the man.


If you had Billy Sinclair for a neighbour I expect you’d keep your curtains closed too. That’s why it took me so long to make the nine-nine-nine call, remember? No one wanted to put their head outside their door.


Mister Miller’s story differs substantially from yours.


Word of advice Sergeant Wade, one card player to another: some people are harder to bluff than others.


Okay, tell me again-


I’d liked to take a break


I’m sorry?


I said I’d like to take a break. I’ve cooperated fully. I’ve answered all your questions. I’ve listened to your veiled accusations and I’ve done all that without a lawyer being present. Now, I want a break and a cup of tea.


We’ve nearly done here and I think-


I don’t care what you think. I have a right to remain silent and if I don’t get a cup of tea that’s what I’m going to do. Then I might exercise my right to legal representation. And you see, Sergeant Wade, if that happens it’s likely to ruin the delightful rapport you and I have. Once I start dealing with an up-right and conscientious member of our great legal system we lose the intimacy, you see? Things, once revealed, may have to sit out there in the cold light of judicial scrutiny.


Are you refusing to answer any more questions?


Yes, unless they relate to tea.


Okay. Constable, nip out and get us some teas eh? See if you can scare up some biscuits too, I’m starving. For the benefit of the tape, Constable Barker has left the room. Interview suspended at four forty-three a.m.

#3


And then there were two.


You know something Doctor? You’re full of shit.


Now the tape’s not running, we could drop the formalities. Why not just call me Doc? You could drop the italics then.


The papers are going to love you. All this clever-clever talk and call-me-Doctor patter is going to go down a storm in the press gallery. But I’ll tell you something: juries don’t like smartarses. Neither do judges. If you’re lucky, with good behaviour, you’ll be out in under twenty. If you’re lucky.


Twenty years for calling an ambulance? That seems harsh. What do you think they’ll give Yakky for administering first aid?


I see it less as first aid, more as interfering with a crime scene. Was slicing himself open in the process part of the plan, bit of a sympathy ploy?


Plan?


I’ll tell you what I’m looking at Doctor. I’m looking at a room with three people in it, one of them with a history of putting a knife into somebody. Two of these three are covered in blood and just happen to work for the third. There’s a baize covered table in the room, playing cards scattered all over the shop and two dead bodies on the floor. All the markings of a high stakes poker game gone very, very wrong. All expect the money, which isn’t there. What I’m not seeing is hide nor hair of this mysterious Bumper who vanished, pausing just long enough to take the money and wipe any prints off one of the murder weapons of course. While he was doing that, your man Yakky manages to kneel on the broken bottle. And, because we can’t lift reliable prints off a pile of glass fragments, that destroys any evidence of just who used it to kill Dolan.


That’s what you’re seeing is it?


It is. I think the only Bumper there last night was Ms Chang. You and your little crew went over to Billy Sinclair’s with the intention of skinning him alive. Only you over played your hand and underestimated the dangers of taking money off villains. Or maybe you didn’t underestimate them and that’s why Mister Miller was there along with a shot gun. In case it went sour, to use your words. Now, the three of you are up to your ankles in blood. So, while Billy’s bleeding out, you gather up the money and come up with this cock and bull story about needing to scour the neighbourhood for a phone. Only you’re not looking for a phone, you’re looking to hide the money somewhere so you can collect it later.


Can you see this?


Your hand?


Yeah, my hand. Notice something?


It’s trembling, you starting to worry Slidesmith?


The story I told you is as genuine as your fake Rolex, Sergeant. Think about that. When real players see another player pick up a card and get the shakes, they know it’s time to fold.


Meaning?


You tremble when the danger’s past. All the adrenaline as nothing to do, so it wanders round your veins and jangles your nerves. When a player picks up a card and trembles, it’s because he’s got the card he needs. He’s relieved, not worried.


What have you go to be relieved about?


You didn’t mention the blue address book. You see, Sergeant Wade, players, real players, don’t talk about tells, or know the fancy nick names for the cards and they don’t talk about luck. What they do is remember all the times they win and forget all the times they’ve lost. And they lose a lot. And that costs a lot. And the minute I saw you, I knew the only way you’d ever see the sucker at the table, was if someone handed you a mirror.

We’ll stick with the story about the Bumper but let’s add a twist. Maybe he didn’t run away with the money and the blue leather address book. Maybe I took the blue book. Billy had written down my apprentice’s name in it and I really didn’t want her name connected to a dead north London villain, not in writing. And maybe, being the curious sort, I spent a moment flipping through that book.

There were a good few names. people owing Mister Sinclair money, or favours in lieu. One of those names was Wade. Wade DC, to be exact, next to some very big numbers. DC? Darren Colin Wade? Dave Charles Wade? Who could know? Then guess what? I find my interviewing officer is a Detective Sergeant Wade. And DS Wade knows the silly names losers give to playing cards, talks about tells and thinks he has a talent for bluffing. So, I’m faced with a man who talks like a piss poor card player and wears a watch worth three kay. That he pretends is fake. So, I wonder—and please set that tape rolling again any time you like—if DC might stand for Detective Constable. Of course, that would mean DS Wade has been in Billy Sinclair’s pocket since before he was promoted. That would mean DS Wade has been losing money for quite a while. And that begs the question, where does a man who has on-going gambling debts to a local villain find the money to buy a Rolex? A Rolex he tells people is fake. I believe you, about juries not liking smartarses. Now, believe me; they like bent coppers even less.


Good luck proving any of this Doctor Slidesmith.


Oh dear, back to the italics are we? I don’t really need to proof it though, do I? I don’t even need to plant the-seed-of-doubt, because it’s there already, in someone’s head. I’m not the only one who can tell a genuine Rolex from a copy, and you can bet I’m not the only one to wonder about it.

If Billy Sinclair’s little blue book, as described on that tape over there, should turn up on someone’s desk, certain wheels might start to grind powerful small. Better it’s not found, better it stays lost, along with all the money.


And do you think this Bumper character is likely to keep it somewhere safe, where it’s not likely to be found?


Oh, I’m sure of it. I’m also sure that when DC Barker comes back with our tea, we’ll resume the interview. I’m also sure that, for the benefit of the tape, Mister Miller, Ms Chang and my good self will be praised for our attempts to save the unfortunate Mister Dolan. And then we’ll all walk out of here; free and clear.

And Sergeant Wade, when I say free and clear, I’m not talking italics.


THE END


Fahrenheit Press are publishing Russell’s full-length novel, NEEDLE SONG on 30th April 2018 which, like this short story, features James Slidesmith.


Needle Song

Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn't her husband.


Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 


Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.


No one except Doc.


Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth - but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.

Purchase Links:

Available in eBook on Monday 30th April 2018. The paperback will be follow shortly.

About The Author


Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.
Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s has always been a miserable bastard.