(A Christmassy chapter in Miss Lionheart and the Laboratory of Death)

Lilly woke up thinking Christmas in this dump was like putting a Rottweiler into a sugar-plum fairy outfit – only to go to breakfast and find Mr Big had done exactly that. Poor Annie sat at the front of the mess-hall, scratched at her pink tutu and whined, until Mr Big thoughtfully distracted her with an oversized femur – still wearing a sock.

Meaning to disappear as quietly as possible, so she could make the most of her day off, Lilly popped a sleepy Quetzee (see book cover of the cute squirrel , snake hybrid that is Lily’s favourite pet) onto her shoulder, grabbed a plate and started loading it with some tempting treats for them both.

Unable to wait, Quetzee jumped down, hooked a piece of greasy bacon with his claws, and scampered back up her arm. Fortunately nobody seemed to notice.

All she wanted was to escape to her room for a few hours alone time.

As Lilly was trying to make a quiet exit, Squidge ran up to her, bouncing up and down like a particle that’s just experienced fission – or like any other twelve-year-old boy hyped up on sugar on Christmas morning. “Miss, Miss! When do you think Santa is going to arrive?”

“Santa?” Lilly asked. “Um. How do you think Santa is going to get into this bunker? There aren’t exactly a lot of chimneys around.”

“A chimney? What have chimney’s got to do with Santa?” Squidge asked, confused. “You do know Santa’s just a man in a red suit?”

“Yes, Squidge,” Lilly said, wondering if it was worthwhile trying to explain to him the difference between adult condescension and adult stupidity.

“I am so excited,” he burbled. “Last year Santa gave me my very own DNA sequencer, several incubators, oh, and my very own lab.”

“Really? How generous,” Lilly replied, absently cutting Quetzee more slices of blue-mermaid tattooed bacon.

“Imagine Mr Big employing a genius and setting them up with everything they need to make the mutant creatures he wants.”

“Yes, it was lucky Mr Big rescued me and brought me here after my mum and dad died in that very suspicious laboratory fire.”

“Very lucky,” Lilly muttered.

“Yes,” Squidge said without a trace of irony, and raced off because he’d seen a thug in a Santa suit squeezing into the room.

“Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas,” Pinhead shouted from under a skewed white beard. He scratched at it, and glared around the room. “Come and get your presents.”

It sounded like a threat.

Determined to get out of there without raising any more attention – Lilly balanced the plate of treats in one hand, a cup of lousy coffee in the other, and rushed past Mr Big to the door. “Just checking up on your dreadbeast,” she mumbled by way of an excuse as she passed by.

Mr Big’s voice came booming after her. “A moment, Miss Lionheart. I’m sure that the dreadbeast can live one more minute without you. After all, Santa has come all this way.”

“Yes, sir,” she said, forcing herself to breathe in and out slowly – in the way commonly believed to relieve stress – but in Lilly’s experience never seemed to work.

Breathe in. Breathe out. A few more minutes of annoy­ance was a small price to pay for a whole day of peace.

“Hey Santa,” Mr Big shouted at Pinhead. “What do you have for all of us today?”

Before Pinhead could answer, Missy came charging into the dining hall yelling, “Miss! Miss Lionheart! The dreadbeast – it isn’t going ping properly.”

“It seems that our Miss Lionheart is right,” Dr. Deathless said to the silent room.

Missy turned bright red and backed out the door, as Dr. Deathless continued. “Apparently her dreadbeast couldn’t live one more moment without her attention, after all.”

“What!? Seriously?” Squidge dashed out the door faster than a speeding photon.

“Arachnid Anuses,” Lilly swore, trying to ignore the mean laughter behind her as she raced after Squidge, chased in turn by nearly a dozen thugs, Annie, and the boss himself.

As soon as they got to the lab, Squidge rushed over to the AW. Lilly pushed past and peered through the Plastech walls.

It was obvious at first glance that the embryo wasn’t about to make it. And it was also obvious that some idiot had taken it out and tried to revive it – but that wasn’t exactly something Lilly wanted the boss to know, lest he jump to some potentially fatal conclusions.

“Right. What’s happening here?” Mr Big yelled at Missy. “Has somebody knocked over this incubator?”

“Not me,” Missy said with an unsurprising eagerness to avoid admitting to what might be referred to as a terminal error.

“Something must have happened,” Squidge muttered looking at the spilt embryonic fluid on the bench. “What does the video – oof!” He looked across accusingly at Missy, but before he could say anything, Missy interrupted. “Maybe it was that Squirrel-snake thing.”

Lilly didn’t blame her, after all any accident with the Boss’ dreaded dreadbeast was likely to be more universally fatal than she, or anyone else on their team, would like. Still, she wasn’t about to let Quetzee to take the blame. “Quetzee was with me,” Lilly said, patting him reassuringly. She needed to think quickly if she wanted to divert attention from Quetzee, and any incriminating video footage of what­ever Missy might have done wrong.

“Um. Here we are.” She turned off the incubator’s alarm. Everything’s fine.” I’ll just use these electrodes to tweak the nutrient level, and the embryo will be right as rain.”

Squidge opened his mouth. Lilly glared at him and he shut it again.

She fumbled in the drawer for a battery and flicked a small electrical charge into the solution. The creature spasmed, not with life of course, but with electricity. “There we go.” She smiled with false confidence – and hoped Mr Big knew so little science he wouldn’t know electrodes don’t actually do that much for nutrient levels. She even wondered if she could have incanted a magic spell, and Mr Big wouldn’t have known any better.

Inconveniently, he knew a little more than Lilly thought.

“Shouldn’t that machine be going ping?” he asked, point­ing to the monitor. Lilly held in a sigh, and kept the smile plastered on her face.

Squidge opened his mouth. A worrying sign at the best of times, but especially troubling with the boss around – the whole concept of lying was something he seemed to struggle with. “Ah. No—”

Lilly elbowed him.

“Ow.” Squidge looked at her, and then at Mr Big, and something must have clicked. “Um, er. Yes, absolutely. One minute,” he said, and fiddled with the machine’s wires under the boss’ very watchful eye.

That minute stretched out like a year. Lilly hoped Mr Big would leave, but he stood there, unblinking. “Hurry up,” he growled. “I haven’t got all day.”

With a shake of his head, Squidge turned the machine back on.

Lilly cringed. Her throat tightened and her stomach clenched, as time stretched out – seemingly forever.

Worst of all, in the moment she knew they were all about to be exposed as liars, Annie licked her lips in anticipation.


I hope you enjoyed that chapter. Discover if Lilly and her team can continue to fool Mr Big and survive Christmas by buying Miss Lionheart and the Laboratory of Death here. Or on this Amazon affiliate link here.

Christmas in an Evil Criminal Mastermind’s Bunker

Picture is of the book cover "Miss Lionheart and the Laboratory of Death" and Lilly's special pet, a snake, squirrel, rat hybrid called Quetzee drawn on parchment.


Danna Staaf decided to share her expertise on squid, to make her corona virus lock-down a little more interesting.

And the questions she was asked, and the answers she’s given have definitely brightened up a few people’s days. This is definitely a fun thread for budding marine biologists. And, even better, you might be able to discover what Vampire Squid eat.

You can tell me all about it- and go in the draw to win…

As I was saying if you do discover what vampire squid eat, and any other exciting facts you think I need to know about squid, or marine biology- you can go in the draw to win a fun book featuring me or Frankie by simply by telling me in the comments what a vampire squid likes to eat.

Hint: it’s not blood!

Enjoy your new discoveries, and remember science is fun!

Lilliana Lionheart

P.S. Click on the books to find out more about them. And don’t forget to follow me or A.J. by clicking on one of the links at the bottom of the blog roll 🙂

Lilliana Lionheart

Have you thought about sneezing?

Because yes, even in an underground bunker we have to be careful about the spread of nasty bugs like covid. So here’s a little video from two of my favourite researchers on how to sneeze safely.

Please note: The mythbusters will show you so many amazing things. Some are very dangerous – so please follow any safety advice they have – and definitely DO NOT try this at home!

kia kaha people, and stay well.

Stay home, stay safe and follow all the up to date health advice from the hard-working health people.

And yes, even gross things are science, and a great place to start on your science and health journey. 🙂

Lilly Lionheart

And you can check out some more science experiments with James Corden & Prof Robert Winston

It’s one of the best kept secrets in the universe…

Miss Lionheart and the Laboratory of Death is now wide, and at .99c from your favourite ebook store from Dec 1-8 2019

So hijack yourself into mad scientists’ territory, duck the gelignite avoid the Acme fuses. Do whatever you need to, just make sure you don’t miss out before this offer ends…


Click below for preview (aff link)


Yes, that’s right – Miss Lionheart’s Adventure into a top secret facility is now available at:

So hijack yourself into mad scientists’ territory, duck the gelignite avoid the Acme fuses. Do whatever you need to, just make sure you don’t miss out…

Paleontology World has the article for you!

The Spidersaur: Largest Ever Fossil of Jurassic-Era Arachnid Found Perfectly Preserved After 165m Years

But despite the amazing nature of this spider, it’s very sad to see the creature was not nearly giant enough, and was “roughly the size of the spider’s modern-day descendants, with a body one-inch long and more than half an inch wide, and legs that stretch to 2.5in.” It’s a fantastic article, with comparisons to modern day spiders, plenty of information- and a little bit of gross.

So there we go, check it out, but beware – if you really want giant spiders, and other truly scary giant bugs, insects and arachnids – you’re better off checking out the interactive story “Attack of the Giant Bugs.”

(paid link)

What can I say, Lilly and I are suckers for science on TV 🙂

There’s nothing more fun than science on tv – except for science with comedians, I’ll have to check out his book – but if you love science and you love fantasy…why not check out mine?

A.J. Ponder

Author of The Frankie Files & Miss Lionheart’s Laboratory

Celebrating science, Kate the Chemist teaches Stephen Colbert how to breathe fire – and a little something about fireworks.

I hope you enjoy

Please note these death defying acts are being done with the help of an experienced (mad) scientist – in order to demonstrate just how fun Chemistry can be – with the appropriate laboratory equipment.

A.J. Ponder, author of fun science fiction including Miss Lionheart, The Frankie Files, Attack of the Giant Bugs and more. 

The Joy of Invention

Posted: June 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

When you do things just because you love them, something wonderful can happen!
Have fun inventing, people! Just like Frankie and Lilly and Squidge  – but maybe with a little more care for health and safety! 🙂

I hope you enjoy this fun video for inspiration

A.J. Ponder

The Frankie Files is for younger inventors-check out the look inside.

Miss Lionheart is for more sophisticated readers who love madcap science fiction, and cute but very dangerous animals :  

Attack of the Giant Bugs

Posted: April 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

Choose adventure, choose fun… Miss Lionheart would adore this book. It’s got everything she likes, science, adventure and fun.

YOU are Greenville’s only hope. You choose which path you take. You can fail your mission or succeed your wildest expectations. But beware, within these pages lies great danger – giant bugs, ants, ladybirds, praying mantises and more. You might come to a grizzly end, or be transformed but whatever happens a real hero keeps fighting, even after they fail.
Are you ready?
Warning: this story contains a mix of real and fictional science. One of the authors has a Bsc Hons and is married to an entomologist who specialises in spiders.

A great story at a tiny price – with over 24 endings and a glossary of insects at the back – scroll down or buy now to support a young inquisitive mind, and two amazing authors, including Sir Julius Vogel award winning A.J. Ponder, and young up and coming author and Wellington cosplayer, Eli Ponder.

And don’t be frightened to comment below or leave a review – to tell us what you think. We’d love to hear from you! 🙂

The team at Phantom Feather Press

phantom logo

Amelia Sirvid, A.J. Ponder, Eileen Mueller & Eli Ponder

It’s all fire and ice with this bit of unnecessary science. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Miss Lionheart approves 🙂