Tag Archives: Corgi

Guest Post – Trains & First Class Murder by Robin Stevens


Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are taking a holiday on the world-famous Orient Express – and it’s clear that each of their fellow first-class passengers has something to hide. Even more intriguing: there is rumour of a spy in their midst.

Then, during dinner, there is a scream from inside one of the cabins. When the door is broken down, a passenger is found murdered, her stunning ruby necklace gone. But the killer has vanished – as if into thin air.

Daisy and Hazel are faced with their first ever locked-room mystery – and with competition from several other sleuths, who are just as determined to crack the case.

I am so so happy to have the brilliant super sleuth and friend Robin Stevens on Tales today!

*runs around in excitement with magnifying glass looking for clues*

 The brilliant third installment in the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, First Class Murder is released today, 30th July 2015!   I am so excited to pick up my copy this weekend at Robin’s launch in Cambridge!


To celebrate the release day today I asked Robin if she would like to feature a guest post on my blog!  She kindly accepted!

As First Class Murder is set on a train we decided that a train themed guest post would be ideal!

And here it is….and it’s so so wonderful!

*jumps on train and settles in for the journey…choo choo*

Trains and First Class Murder

Trains have been a big part of my author experience. I met my agent at St Pancras Station; I got my publishing offer as I was stepping onto the train to go home after work (I took the call very calmly, and then I hung up and burst into tears on the businessman sitting next to me); I heard that I’d been shortlisted for the Waterstones Prize on the tube on the way to my office (I burst into tears, then calmly stood up and went to work).


Trains are excitement, mystery, movement, possibility – I’m an endlessly curious person who gets bored very easily, and trains are the antidote to that. You’re going somewhere even when you’re not moving, and you won’t ever be quite the same person when you step off the train as you were when you got on it.

They’ve also been a big part of my life. I commute to work on the train every day, and write my books between the town where I live and my London station. I lived for a year in a flat that looked out onto the Elephant and Castle overground, so I could stare into each commuter train as I worked on my MA dissertation (about fictional murder, naturally).

And a train was the setting of my happiest holiday memory: when I was eight, my parents took me on a train trip through the Alps to Venice. It was a sleeper train, and it felt like magic. I remember staring out at the mountains and feeling completely dazzled by how big and bright they were. I remember waking up the next morning, with sunlight coming under the roll-down blind and the train slowing under me as we pulled in to Venice station. It was such a gorgeous and strange experience that thinking about it still seems a little like a dream – I’m not sure it actually happened to me, as opposed to someone in a book.

So, of course, it didn’t even occur to me to set my third Murder Most Unladylike Mystery on a train until my editor suggested it. As soon as she did, though, I realised that it was pretty much the book I’d been preparing to write all of my life.

My favourite Agatha Christie adaptation is the 1974 Albert Finney Murder on the Orient Express (Lauren Bacall’s Mrs Hubbard is pretty much the perfect character), and I’m obsessed with the way the book resolves – it really bothers me, morally, in a way that I just can’t stop thinking about.

I knew immediately what I wanted to include – a locked room mystery in one of the carriages, with all of the glamour and danger of Agatha Christie’s Orient Express: dresses and hats and jewels and sumptuous dinners (and screaming and knives and international spy plots). Because it’s 1935 now, in Daisy and Hazel’s world, a bit of the coming war creeps in (you can’t keep it out, not even in the nicest settings). And if Arsenic for Tea was Daisy’s book, all about her family, then this is Hazel’s – we finally meet Mr Wong, Hazel’s father, and as part of solving this mystery, Hazel has to do quite a lot of growing up.

Check out the First Class Murder suspect list here

I wrote the entire first draft of First Class Murder on the 7:45 from Cambridge to King’s Cross, and it made absolute sense from beginning to end. Even my author research – conducted on a real British Pullman dining carriage from the 1930s, with a five-course lunch, champagne and oysters – was a dream (You can check out Robin’s British Pullman experience here).


A very bumpy dream – Hazel staggers and spills her soup because of that afternoon, when I discovered just how bad the suspension on 1930s trains really were – but a dream nonetheless.


I think there’s a lot of me – and my trains – in First Class Murder. My memories of that childhood sleeper car journey are now Hazel’s – like me, Hazel looks out of a window at the mountains, and wakes to the sun on her pillow. Unlike me, of course, Hazel and Daisy face a murderer – as always, dead bodies seem to pile up around them – but apart from that small detail, I hope my sense of trains as a good place to be comes through.

All aboard . . .









About Robin Stevens

71HqXfD7I5L._UX250_Robin Stevens was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. She has been making up stories all her life.

When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and she realised that she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie when she grew up. When it occurred to her that she was never going to be able to grow her own spectacular walrus moustache, she decided that Agatha Christie was the more achieveable option.

She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She then went to university, where she studied crime fiction, and now she works at a children’s publisher, which is pretty much the best day job she can imagine.

Robin now lives near Cambridge with her pet bearded dragon, Watson.

You can follow Robin on twitter using @redbreastedbird

Or check out Robin’s fab website – www.robin-stevens.co.uk

You can buy Robins books here



Don’t forget to check out the First Class Murder Suspect list here

You can also find out what we all got up to at the Arsenic For Tea book launch here

A huge thank you to Robin for the fab guest post!  It’s made me so excited to read the book and also eager to go on my own train adventure someday soon!

Have you read any of the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries?  Have you managed to pick up a copy of First Class Murder?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Playing Detective!


Review – The Curious Tale Of The Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson


Caraboo Blog Tour Poster v5

The 2nd July 2015 marks the release day of the historical YA story The Curious Tale Of The Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson published by Corgi Childrens.  I am very excited to have been sent a proof copy of this book and been asked to be part of the brilliant blog tour by the lovely Ming ( @raremediumwelldone ).

I am over the moon to be part of the wonderful blog tour for this book and for my stop on the tour I will be reviewing The Curious Tales Of The Lady Caraboo!

Thank you to both Ming and Catherine for having me on this wonderful tour.


Out of the blue arrives an exotic young woman from a foreign land. Fearless and strong ‘Princess’ Caraboo rises above the suspicions of the wealthy family who take her in. But who is the real Caraboo? In a world where it seems everyone is playing a role, couls she be an ordinary girl with a tragic past? Is she a confidence trickster? Or is she the princess everyone wants her to be? Whoever she is, she will steal your heart…

Publisher – Corgi Children’s

Date Published – 2nd July 2015

Pages – 288 pages

Format – Paperback

Category – UK YA, Historical

Source –

I was sent a copy of this book by the wonderful Ming for this blog tour.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review.  Thank you Ming for sending this to me to read!

** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**

I have really really wanted to read some historical fiction this year and as of yet I had not got around to it so when I was offered the chance to read this book I jumped and waved and shouted me me me and got very excited indeed!  I have heard so many good things about Catherine Johnson’s books that I was intrigued and this story seemed really interesting and curious….and since reading it I have to say I loved it!

The Curious Tale Of The Lady Caraboo had me hooked right from the beginning.  It is set in the year 1819 and tells the tale of a wealthy family, the Worralls, who find a lady from a foreign land, Mary Willcox, in distress and decide to take her into their home, help her and want to find out more about her.  She tells them her name is Caraboo and they come to the conclusion that she is a Princess!  Caraboo has good intentions to only stay a couple of days, but as the Worralls become more curious about this mystery lady who speaks a different language and wears different clothes Caraboo becomes more drawn into their world and their family.

From the offset this book had me captivated!  The pages basically turned themselves as I was transported back into the past, loved the story and loved all of the characters.  The writing just flowed on each page and I feel that is a credit to Catherine’s writing style completely.  It never let me go until I finished the book!

I enjoyed all of the characters in the book.  The wealthy family of the Worralls were all so unique in their own ways and it really felt like Caraboo touched the heart of each and everyone of them.  Cassandra, who made me roll my eyes a few times I have to admit, was both adorable and frustrating, but it completely fit her character as the daughter of the rich family.  Nothing really phased her and she seemed to go with the flow, but could be very selfish when it comes to love and dresses!  I still liked her though and her acceptance and caring of Caraboo was so lovely to read.  Okay maybe I have to admit I was lusting over her love interest Will, the innkeepers son, throughout most of the book as he was rather…..lets say distracting *swoons*  You would be good enough for me any day Will!  Then you have Fred, Cassandra’s brother who whilst I couldn’t stand him at the start of the book with his views about women and how he treated them (the 1800’s were obviously a time when rules were deemed very different for men and women on how to behave), but grew on me completely throughout the book …stick with him though he’s definately worth it!

I think one of my favourite characters was Mrs Worrall.  She is completely intrigued by Caraboo which in a way is so lovely to read and see as she wants to understand this lady who is from a different way of life and wants to know all about her and where she has come from although, some of her methods were a little scary to be honest, but in the 1800 these were obviously standard practise including using electric thearpy and the shapes of peoples heads etc.  I felt she was quite proud of Caraboo and even comissioned her portrait to be painted by an artist, but upon reflection maybe saw her as a little experment maybe, but she did have a caring side towards Caraboo.

No book would be complete without a bad guy and poor Caraboo suffers at the hands of a villian quite partial to a drink or two.

Caraboo was just so lovely.  I loved her so much.  She seized the opportunity of being Caraboo rather than Mary Willcox and became very much a free spirit.  I loved the way she spent time on the roof of the house that became her spot and I laughed out loud at one point when she jumps through a window to make an entrance when she’s looking for Cassandra.  Her intentions are good and she seemed to have a good heart and care about the Worrall family.  I could really get the sense of Caraboo’s feelings and how her path in life had not been an easy one.  She melted my heart a little I have to admit.

I loved the relationship that develops between Caraboo and Fred it was so lovely to read.  Fred is initially worried that Caraboo will tarnish the family name and has a feeling she is fooling the family and Caraboo initially, like me, dislikes Fred and often wants to push Fred off the roof and into horse manure which made me chuckle a lot.  One of my favourite parts of the book was when Caraboo and Fred go hunting and experiencing the raw outdoors together.  Whilst Caraboo seems natural with this, Fred most defiantely was not and I just loved the scene as some of the scenarios like Fred falling over into the ash had me chuckling.

Catherine writes a brilliant author note in the back of the book explaining some of the research she did whilst writing this book.  You get a huge sense of the passion and intrigue Catherine had with this story and this curious tale and whilst she stuck to as many facts as possible throughout her story she provides the reader with some historical facts about Princess Caraboo giving reference to some books that are in fact mentioned here when I looked up the Princess Caraboo on google as like Catherine her story and history have intrigued me to do my own mini research.

I read this book super quick as I was that engrossed in the story.  I loved every single page of it!  I will be rushing out to but more of Catherine’s books as if this is anything to go by what am I missing out on?! 🙂

I highly recomend this book to everyone even if you have no interest in historical fiction.  It is a tale of love and kindness and about a lady who is as curious as the books title suggests.

I award this book 5 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!


You can buy this book, The Curious Tale Of The Lady Caraboo, here

Or why not add it to your to read list on Goodreads here

About Catherine Johnson


Catherine has written lots of books including the award winning Sawbones, and Arctic Hero chosen by Booktrust for Booked up in 2010. She has two grown up children and is a Londoner who lives by the sea. She also writes for film and TV.

Check out Catherine’s website here

Or why not follow her on twitter using @CatWrote

Also check out Catherine’s other books here

The Curious Tale Of The Lady Caraboo Blog Tour

Don’t forget you can catch up of the rest of the Blog Tour for this brilliant book by checking out the stops below!

Caraboo Blog Tour Poster v5

Have you read The Curious Tale Of The Lady Caraboo or any of Catherine Johnsons other books?  What did you think?  Has this review made you want to go grab a copy?  Have you ever pretended to be someone else maybe?  I would love to here from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading….and falling in love with this book!




Review – Nation by Terry Pratchett



Today marks my stop on the Farewell Terry Pratchett blog tour which has been organised by the wonderful lovely Viv over on @Serendipity_Viv !

For my stop on the blog tour I am going to share my thoughts and post a review about Nation by Terry Pratchett!

When Viv was putting the blog tour together I asked her to pick me a book otherwise I would have been changing my mind every five minutes on which one to read!  Therefore I said to Viv I would have a lucky dip!  I was pleased that she picked Nation as it is one I have not read before but have heard a lot about!

I have read a lot of Terry Pratchett over the years more so when I was younger.  I loved immersing and losing myself in his fantastic worlds and creations, quite often devouring his books in a day.  I cannot wait to read every ones posts on this brilliant blog tour.  A truly fantastic celebration of a fantastic writer!

Check out the introduction to the tour here

A huge thank you to Viv for having me on this wonderful tour!

Also a huge thank you to Penguin Random House for surprising everyone on the tour and sending out this little thank you for taking part!  It was completely unexpected and so lovely!



On the day the world ends . . .

. . . Mau is on his way home from the Boys’ Island. Soon he will be a man.

And then the wave comes – a huge wave, dragging black night behind it and bringing a schooner which sails over and through the island rainforest.

The village has gone.

The Nation as it was has gone.

Now there’s just Mau, who wears barely anything, a trouserman girl who wears far too much, and an awful lot of big misunderstandings . . .

Publisher – Corgi Childrens

Published – 8th October 2009

Pages – 432 pages

Format – Paperback and E-Book

Category – UK YA, YA Contemporary

Source – I purchased this book in e book form for my kindle *digs kindle out of the draw and blows dust*

** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book to be honest…I had not really heard of it before some one mentioned how good it was on twitter and with it being a stand alone I was intrigued as to what to expect!  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!

And it had a map!!  A MAP!  And we all know I love maps in books!  And in this book it says and I quote….

“Every life should have a map”

Yes indeed!


I will try and put some of this book into words that may form a review, but as usual Pratchett’s writing and imagery were on point and so sharp and just picture perfect.  It draws you into this world like you are living in it yourself!

The book is set in a parallel universe from our world, with it’s own rules, hierarchy and it’s own views and religions. To me it was a kind of Adam and Eve story.  It begins with a story of how the world was created and the Gods.  It ten tells the story of a boy called Mau, who is returning to his Nation after leaving the boys island where he had been sent to become a man. Upon his return he finds that his Nation has been destroyed by a huge wave.  There is nothing left.  Nobody.  All his family and friends are gone.  Adapting to his new life is hard and then he meets a girl, who is stranded on the island too brought there by a big canoe.  Together they begin to survive and begin new lives.  Then other people wash up on the shores of the Nation!  What pursues is an action adventure story with a mix of romance and a dash of humour!  Oh and a parrot who is rather foul mouthed!

I admit I struggled with this book initially up until the point that Ermintrude (who later calls herself Daphne) is introduced into the story having being swept onto the Nation on a shipwreck called Sweet Jude.  I just loved how the worlds of a tribal boy, Mau, and a rich “trouserwoman”, Daphne, collided and how they learn from each other. Daphne with her etiquette and the tribal living ways of Mau.  It was a pleasure to watch this develop.

I loved how we received flashbacks of island life through Mau’s memories and could fully imagine the fully populated island of Nation in all it’s glory and all it’s inhabitants!

One of my favourite parts of the book was when Daphne teaches Mau how they can communicate as they do not understand each others languages.  Daphne draws in the sand and uses a bird picture book to teach Mau words….I just adored it so much!

I also have a favourite line from the book…it’s just beautiful ….

“It was as if the horizon was drinking the sea”

How gorgeous is that quote!

This book really did make me think which appears to have been Pratchett’s intention and I think that all readers will get something different from it.

I don’t want to reveal much more through fear of spoiling this beautiful book as I feel it is a book to go into without knowing much about and enjoying it’s beauty.

I’m so pleased Viv picked this book for me to read as part of the tour!  I may not have read it otherwise and then I would have not been able to experience the beautiful words that encaptured me from beginning to end!

I award this book 4 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books


You can buy this book here

About Terry Pratchett


Sir Terry Pratchett was the acclaimed creator of the global bestselling Discworld series, the first of which, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. In all, he was the author of fifty bestselling books. His novels have been widely adapted for stage and screen, and he was the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, as well as being awarded a knighthood for services to literature. Worldwide sales of his books now stand at 70 million, and they have been translated into thirty-seven languages.

Sir Terry Pratchett died on 12th March 2015


The Farewell Terry Pratchett Blog Tour

You can catch up on the tour or follow the rest of the tour below!

farewell terry pratchett tour

Have you read Nation? What did you think? Has this review made you want to go grab a copy? What would you do if you woke up one day and you were the only human in your world?! I would love to here from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Rest In Peace Sir Terry Pratchett – you will be missed!


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