Challenge Participant


Saturday, 30 October 2010

Someone Else's Son by Sam Hayes Read the first chapter HERE!

Sam Hayes is the author of four real-life fiction titles for Headline: Blood Ties,
Unspoken, Tell Tale and Someone Else’s Son. She takes ordinary families and puts
them through immense emotional and psychological strain, making her novels
uncomfortable yet compelling reads. Her emotional thrillers are perfect for
fans of Sophie Hannah, Nicci French, Minette Walters, Susan Lewis, Belinda
Bauer and Erin Kelly.
If you want to be challenged, terrified and exhilarated then her latest book
Someone Else’s Son delivers on all three accounts. As in her previous novels,
the drama revolves around a moral question, in this case “Do we ever really
know our children?”
‘What would you do if your teenage son was stabbed to death at school?’ That’s a
question chat-show host Carrie Kent can well imagine posing to any one of her
studio guests. Her daily morning TV show deals with real life in all it’s grubby glory
- from underage sex to benefit swindlers, cheating partners to DNA testing. It’s a
million miles away from her perfect, polished existence. But when she gets a call to
say that her beloved son Max has been murdered, Carrie and her ex-husband Brody
will have to enter a world of poverty, fear and violence if they want to find out what
really happened. And when the shocking truth is finally revealed, will they be able
to live with it...?
Read on for an exclusive extract
Someone Else’s Son is published in hardback on 14th October
Get your hands on a copy here
To find out more about Sam Hayes check out her website
Friday, 24 April 2009
Before she knew what was happening, the knife was in and out
of his body. Over and over, sinking deep. It cut through the air,
mesmerising them, slowing their lives, condensing everything to
the beautiful moments just before it happened, just before it
entered him, just before their worlds changed for ever.
She didn’t know how to make it stop; couldn’t make it stop.
They stared at each other one last time. A love affair packed
into a second. Blood flowed between them.What was he telling
‘Fucking twist,’ one of the youths yelled, already running.
They danced on brilliant trainers; a pack fleeing. Their shiny
tracksuit bottoms dragged in the puddles; their liquid eyes
gleamed from adrenalin, drugs, alcohol – any fuel for their fire.
The vinegar from the chips still stung her lips. Slow motion,
he dropped to his knees, then his body folded to the ground. She
couldn’t believe he’d stood this long. She tried to catch him.
His head hit the tarmac. She screamed but nothing came out.
His eyes bulged.
She pressed her hand to his ribs, his stomach, but there were
too many holes. Scalding blood flowed between her fingers,
although she could already feel it cooling.
‘Don’t die,’ she sobbed, dropping her head on to his body.
Where was everyone? ‘Help me!’ she screamed. All in class. No
one else bunking off today. ‘I’ll get help,’ she said frantically, not
daring to take her hands off his wounds. How had it come to
His chest suddenly heaved up with a bubbling wheeze before
it collapsed again, as if it was the last breath he would ever take.
Otherwise, he didn’t make a sound.
‘Help! ’ she cried again, scrambling to her feet. She had to do
something. She spun around, desperately looking for someone,
anyone.All she saw were the blank faces of the ugly buildings, the
empty school grounds – a desolate wasteland. She pulled her
phone from her pocket. She dialled 999. Gave details. Screamed
for them to hurry. He was dying. Please be quick.
‘Don’t leave me,’ she begged. She was beside him again,
applying pressure as the operator had instructed. His expression
was blank, empty, staring – not even showing any pain. It was so
far removed from just ten minutes ago when they’d shared a joint
and a tray of chips.
‘I can’t live without you,’ she cried, thinking of everything.
She couldn’t do it alone.Tears fell from her face and melted into
his blood. ‘I won’t live without you.’ The sobs burst from deep
inside. Spit and phlegm, tears and blood choked her words.
‘Bastards,’ she screamed out.
‘Stay with me. Stay with me,’ she said, panting, rocking, pressing.
Where was the ambulance? She tried to pull herself together,
scanning through the fragmented memories of the first-aid
classes she’d taken last year. Quick-fire revision for a real-life
exam no one wanted to take. ‘OK, OK.’ She helped herself first.
She was no good to him in a panic. She fought hard to keep the
shots of breath down. She would pass out if they got any faster.
What had she done?
‘Shock,’ she whispered, refusing to think of it now. Quickly,
she let go of the wound on his side and pulled her arms from her
jacket. Her limbs shook as she struggled free, draping the coat
over him. He was shaking every few seconds – a deep vibration
that she felt resonating up through her arms and straight into her
She’d never told him that she loved him.
She saw the pool of blood, dark as death, seeping through the
coat at the same time the siren reached out to her.
‘Oh, thank God,’ she cried. ‘The ambulance is coming. Please
don’t die.’ Her arms shook from the strain of clamping his
wounds. She was leaning on him, her left forearm tracking a
series of deep bleeds while her right arm took care of several
more under his ribs.
Suddenly, she heard voices, all around her.
‘Young male, about sixteen, seventeen . . . multiple stab
wounds to the chest and abdomen.Major blood loss, blow to the
head . . . BP falling, pulse weak . . .’
She heard all these things as she was prised out of the way.
‘Fifteen,’ she whispered from the periphery of the scene, but no
one heard. ‘He’s fifteen.’
‘What’s going on?’ a male voice suddenly snapped at her.Was
she in shock too? She couldn’t move. A hand fixed round her
arm. ‘Jesus Christ, tell me what’s happened, girl.’ He yanked
her round, their faces close. Then he was on his phone, calling
for people to come, calling for more help, gripping her as if she
was getting a telling-off for bunking lessons. ‘Jack, it’s serious.
Get down here now,’ he barked into his phone.
She looked up at him. Mr Denton. Her maths teacher.
‘Well?’ He shook her. His face was red.
‘I . . . I don’t know,’ she whispered. ‘I was coming back from
the sports centre and . . . and I just found him lying here all
messed up.’ She swallowed. Her mouth was dry.What was she
supposed to tell him?
How could she tell anyone?
Her entire body shook. She stared down at the blood-soaked
ground. He had help now, and that was all that mattered, wasn’t
it? She’d say she didn’t know what happened, that she’d had
nothing to do with it. She would just go home, call the hospital
later to see how he was. It would all be OK. Not as bad as it
‘Did you see anything? A fight? Was anyone else around?
Speak, girl!’
She shook her head. She saw the stretcher being lifted away,
sealed inside the ambulance.
‘Fucking hell,’ someone said. Another screamed at the blood
clotting on the ground. Hands clapped over mouths, eyes wide,
people gathering and gawping.
She looked up.The headmaster was striding across the school
grounds towards the mayhem. The buildings – our ship, as he
called it in assembly – had faces crammed at every window.
Pupils and staff spilt out on to the far end of the rectangle of
dull tarmac that caged twelve hundred teenagers during midmorning
break and lunchtime.
Police swarmed through the school gates.They raced down to
where he had dropped, gauging the blood, the denim jacket, the
spread of chips, as if that would tell them exactly what had
happened. They took control. Everyone was ushered back.
Somehow, Mr Denton let go of her arm; somehow, she got
swallowed up by the crush of students, teachers, people off the
street, and somehow she managed to slip out of the school
grounds without anyone knowing she’d gone.
She reckoned, as she ran and ran, that it was all going to be

Someone Else's Son by Sam Hayes

A tense and powerful emotional thriller from Sam Hayes that asks: Do we ever really know our children? 'What would you do if your teenage son was stabbed to death at school?' That's a question chat-show host Carrie Kent can well imagine posing to any one of her studio guests. Her daily morning TV show deals with real life in all it's grubby glory - from underage sex to benefit swindlers, cheating partners to DNA testing. It's a million miles away from her perfect, polished existence. But when she gets a call to say that her beloved son Max has been murdered, Carrie and her ex-husband Brody will have to enter a world of poverty, fear and violence if they want to find out what really happened. And when the shocking truth is finally revealed, will they be able to live with it...?

I had never heard of Sam Hayes before receiving this book but this will not be the last book I read of hers either.
The book starts with a stabbing - a detailed account of what happened, one which remained on my mind throughout the book. It was, in my mind, graphic and drew my attention to the book straight away.
the book is a disturbing and emotional thriller that touches the darkest fears of any parent; 'do I really know my child?', 'are they secretly in emotional pain or even in danger?', 'have I lost sight of what's really important?'.
the book follows a fast-paced journey through the troubled world of Max and Dayna, teenagers who meet shortly before Max is fatally stabbed outside his school.
Dayna lives in a economically and emotionally impoverished family and Max struggles to live within a life lived on a tough estate where bullying and violence is an everyday occurrence. His mum is Carrie Knight, the host of a morning television show, similar to Jeremy Kyle. She lives and breathes the show, not recognising what is going on in her own life and that of her sons. Max's father is no longer living with them and is a blind mathematician. Max is further troubled by the confusion and misery felt by the breakdown of his parents relationship.
The stabbing of Max is a wake up call to his mother, Carrie and she must face some hard truths about the life of her son and must discover what Max's life had been like before he was so cruelly stabbed.
I really enjoyed this book, there were twists and turns in the storyline, surprising me when I thought i had guessed but was further intrigued. I learnt much about each character, their lives and relationships and by the end of the book, thought of them as real people who I cared about.
This book is a great thriller, recommended to anyone who loves a book thrilled with suspense.
Thank you to Sam Eades of Headline Publishing for sending me this book to review and see the post above for an exclusive read of the first chapter.

Strictly Come Dancing, The Official 2011 Annual

"Strictly Come Dancing Series 8" has arrived and with it come more sequins, glitter and sparkle than ever before. Bringing glamour back to our television sets, 14 new celebrities take to the dance floor. Matt Baker, Tina O'Brien, Paul Daniels, Goldie, Gavin Henson, Felicity Kendal, Patsy Kensit, Scott Maslen, Jimi Mistry, Peter Shilton, Pamela Stephenson, Kara Tointon, Ann Widdecombe and Michelle Williams are ready to dazzle and entertain, but who will waltz their way to the Glitter Ball Trophy and who will be crowned the clown of the dance? Get your strictly fix with interviews with the judges about what they really thought of last year's competitors and that nail-biting finale; exclusive interviews with series 7 winner, Chris Hollins and heart-throb finalist Ricky Whittle; behind-the-scenes photos and gossip capturing the action, emotion and drama at the dress rehearsal and live quarter finals of Series 7; profiles of all the new contestants and their professional dance partners; brand-new games and quizzes to test your "Strictly Come Dancing" know-how. Keep dancing!

Along with many millions of people, I love the weekend's installments of Strictly Come Dancing. I love the music, the costumes, the celebrities and the professionals and this book contains all of that as long with many more.

The book contains a summary of series 7, both the high and low points along with who goes out when. There are brilliant photographs capturing the magic of the show. Next follows a great section on the new dances included last year - this was really interesting reading with the history of the dance and also the moves you can expect to see within a dance.

The book then seems to get a bit confusing - meeting celebrities and professionals are intermixed with great articles on each of the judges, behind the scenes tours - including a great article on my favorite area, the costume department. I love the outfits and when watching It Takes Two, Claudia Winklemann's BBC2 show. I love the chats with the designer and seamstresses. There are also pages on Americas Dancing With the Stars, both series 9 and 10, and the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour and Series winner, Chris Hollins.

All the articles are full of great facts and interesting stories and I really enjoyed reading through the annual. As with all annuals there are a number of quizzes and puzzles at the end of the book.

This is a book for Strictly fanatics everywhere!

Thank you to Prima Magazine for sending me this book.

Simple Knitting by Erica Knight

Following the success of Simple Crochet, Erika Knight has turned her attention to the novice knitter with this unique workshop-based how-to-knit book. With Simple Knitting you will learn to knit whilst creating your own accessible yet highly desirable basic projects that are at once essential and inspiring. Each of the 20 projects in the book teaches you a new skill, and builds upon and consolidates those knitting techniques already learnt from the proceeding projects, until you have mastered a wide repertoire of skills and amassed an enviable collection of gorgeous knitted items. More and more people are discovering the pleasures of knitting, yet many of today's new knitters have not had the same opportunity of previous generations to learn the necessary techniques. Who better to learn from than Erika Knight? With a series of workshop-style masterclasses which you work through as you create each knitted project, Erika guides you through all the key techniques, from plain stitches to more advanced cables and shaping, as well as broader design principles, such as putting together a colour palette. Simple Knitting provides a unique opportunity to learn the design secrets of one of the world's most highly respected knitwear designers. With inspiring photography by Yuki Sugiura that showcases each of the beautiful designs perfectly, supported with clear charts and artworks, Simple Knitting is the ultimate book to learn to knit from.

I love the layout of this book. There is a great introduction where Erika herself states 'i want to share the simplicity of knitting with you' and I believe this book does try to do this. There are 20 projects in the book, each teaching a new skill. The projects are all graded to skill levels (beginner, easy, intermediate and experienced). The first section is all about materials and techniques, explaining yarns, fine, medium and thick, the types of equipment which are useful when stitching and a great techniques section. This techniques section is very detailed along with great diagrams. The section includes basic knitting, both knit and purl stitches, casting on and off, increasing and decreasing, knitting in a round and, something which has always puzzled me, making a tension swatch. There is a detailed page listing abbreviations and another on terminology. There are also pages on understanding patterns which I found very useful when looking further into the book at the design patterns. Following this is a page on reading charts and also after care of knitted items. I think this first section is a very useful one and this book would be a great addition to any knitting bag as a resource for understanding any pattern looked at in the future.

The next section of the book is a stitch library showing photographs of knitted squares of different stitches, each photograph accompanied by a pattern of how to knit each stitch. There are basic stitches such as garter stitch and stocking stitch, as well as rib, moss stitch, herringbone stitch and cable stitches, followed by stripe sequences.
There then follows the project workshops, starting with beginner projects and moving on throughout the book to advanced projects. Each project aims to teach you a technique and lists the stitches used in the project, along with the finished size, a materials list and the tension.
The beginner projects are for scarfs, dish clothes and cushions and as projects get more advanced others include hats, bags, jumpers, mittens and throws. There is one project in the book, a rag bag, that uses lengths of light-weight cotton to knit with.
I really like this book and think it is a great accompaniment to the Debbie Bliss book reviewed below for someone who wants to begin knitting or is coming back to knitting like I am. The book is ideal for a beginner but also for a more advanced knitter who wants to maybe learn a new technique.
Thank you to Quadrille Publishing for sending me this book to review.

The Knitters Year by Debbie Bliss

Anyone who has caught the knitting bug will know that knitters never like to be without a project on the go. So what could be better than a compendium of 52 handknit designs that will take every knitter all the way through an entire year? Each of the projects in The Knitter's Year has been designed to be made in a week or less, with some being as quick to knit up as a rainy afternoon or a couple of evenings. Designs include homewares, accessories and things to wear. They range from a sumptuous yet simple chunky scarf, which takes a few balls of yarn, to the adorable Easter-bunny egg cosies, which can be made using remnants of yarn leftover from larger projects. Divided into the four seasons, the book features spring-time ideas such as a floral corsage and some fingerless gloves, plus homeware items including a shelf edging and lacy bolster cushion. Following are summery projects like a beach bag, simple tank and string shopping bag. Moving into Autumn, Debbie gives ideas for a back-to-school iPod cover and simple beret and scarf. Finally Winter, where knits really come into their own with snug socks, slippers, and even ideas for Christmas gifts and tree decorations. The collection provides a blissful year of inspiration from a leading knitter to either make for yourself or to give as a special gift.
Debbie Bliss is a popular name in knitting and when I received this book I was eager to start looking at the designs included. As stated above, 52 patterns are included, 13 per season. The patterns cover a wide variety of items: scarfs, bags, socks, cushions and baby cardigans to name but a few.
The book starts with a great few pages on yarns: the types of yarn with great descriptions and also hints on when buying yarn. However, the only yarns covered are Debbie Blisses range of yarns. There is also a list of standard abbreviations used throughout the patterns.
I am an average knitter. My nan taught me when I was younger and I have knitted scarves, dolls clothes, knitted dolls and even a waistcoat. However, when I opened this book I was immediately amazed by some of the ideas included and I plan on trying some of the ideas out. The first pattern in the book is for a basket, the pattern clearly written and then is followed by a page on how to make it up. However, there were a few items in the making up stage that I feel could have had an explanation included (e.g. I do not know what buckram is and would of liked some explanation so I would know what I was looking for when shopping for it). However, I think the instructions for making the basket were very clear and precise.
The patterns include many traditional, knitted items e.g. egg cosies and wash cloths but also more modern items, e.g. floral corsages, i pod cases and bead necklaces. There is a pattern idea in the book for most people and many of the ideas would make great presents for anyone who loves giving handmade presents. There are patterns in the book where you would need to buy balls of wool to complete the project but then there are also patterns where you could use up oddments left in your work bag.
The book really encouraged me to get out my knitting needles again and start to create. It would of been great to have a section in the book explaining the sorts of needles used and a quick description of how to knit stitches however these are available in many other knitting books and so was not a necessity.
Thank you to Quadrille Publishing for sending me this book to review.

Bake and Decorate by Fiona Cairns

Baking and cake decorating have never been more popular. And whereas there are many books on the market which teach how to decorate cakes to a high finished standard, there are very few which focus on delicious cake recipes and simple but effective decoration. If you thought cake decorating was costly and difficult, this is the book that will change your mind forever. Fiona Cairns is bursting with new ideas for making delicious, visually stunning cakes and biscuits easy - even for the least experienced cook - and for far less money than you thought. From an eye-popping gold leaf-encased torte for a special celebration, to wickedly sophisticated chocolate-chili cupcakes, Fiona shows every aspiring hostess how to achieve glamorous, fun entertaining from her own kitchen, using easy techniques and tricks that make cake decorating achievable for all. Fiona's cake recipes have the sensual deliciousness often lacking in the sterile creations of other cake decorators. Be transported to a summer garden by the whole crystallised roses on top of a cake filled with the heady flavours of orange blossom and pistachio, or celebrate springtime with a white chocolate cardamom truffle cake, adorned with sugar eggs and fresh spring leaves. Children and the young at heart alike will adore the warmth of Fiona's cakes baked inside ice-cream cones, topped with pastel butter cream that won't melt in the sun, while everyone can now enjoy the vegan fruit cake recipe that formed the centrepiece for Heather Mills' marriage to Paul McCartney. Here, finally, is the cake book where every recipe is a keeper and each stunning creation made easy to achieve.
I am the first to admit I have a sweet tooth and this is one for sweet teeth everywhere. Not a book to look at when you are hungry! I am not, myself, a great lover of spending time in the kitchen but I have a few recipes in here marked that I want to try.
The book starts with a really useful couple of pages discussing ingredients and equipment. They give explanations of and tips of how to choose the best ones etc. There is also a page on baking tips and decorating tips. They are wrote simply, in no chef speak and I learnt a lot by reading these pages.
The recipes are then split into two sections, Bake and Decorate. Bake contains 14 big cakes, 64 small cakes and 72 biscuits. Decorate contains 80 big cakes, 150 small cakes and 188 biscuits. There are superb photographs accompanying each recipe. Each recipe is introduced with a small paragraph, including a description, useful hints or possible variations. The recipes are fully explained and even I, as a non existent cook, think I could follow them easily. Each recipe has a serving number and a complete ingredient list.
Following the recipes there are 25 easy cheats regarding decoration with some great ideas included.
I loved looking at this book and I can understand why some people love reading recipe books as I would curl up with a chick lit book at the end of the day. The book covers baking for all occasions, including a vintage wedding cakes, cakes for Christmas, decorations for Christmas trees, Easter decorations, bollywood celebrations, summer garden parties and children's parties. There are traditional recipes, e.g. Victoria sponge and shortbread along with a host of modern recipes too: giant cupcakes, cheesecakes and vegan fruit cakes. I am wanting to attempt the chocolate and beetroot cake.
I would recommend this book to anyone with a sweet tooth, what ever your cooking ability or experience!
Thank you to Quadrille Publishing for sending me this book to review.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

From Notting Hill With Love ..... Actually by Ali McNamara

Scarlett O'Brien is in love ...with the movies. Utterly hooked on Hugh Grant, crazy about Richard Curtis, dying with lust for Johnny Depp, Scarlett spends her days with her head in the clouds and her nights with her hand in a huge tub of popcorn. Which is not exactly what her sensible, DIY-obsessed fiance David has in mind for their future. So when Scarlett has the chance to house-sit an impossibly grand mansion in Notting Hill ? the setting of one of her all-time favourite movies ? she jumps at the chance to live out her film fantasies one last time. It's just a shame that her new neighbour Sean is so irritating ? and so irritatingly handsome, too. As a chaotic comedy of her very own erupts around Scarlett, she begins to realise there's more to life than seating plans and putting up shelves. What sort of happy ending does she really want? Will it be a case of Runaway Bride or Happily Ever After? The big white wedding looms, and Scarlett is running out of time to decide ...
My guilty pleasure, or comfort, is curling up in front of the television and watching anything with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. My DVD's of Notting Hill, Bridget Jones and Love Actually are well watched, so when I saw the synopsis for this book I knew it would be one I would enjoy and I was not disappointed!
The main character, Scarlett, loves the movies and will always be able to match the situations in her life to the movies. She is due to marry her fiance, David, soon but is having doubts and takes the opportunity to house sit for her best friends friends in where else but ... Notting Hill. It is while she is travelling to the house that she meets a stranger in a travel book shop and who turns out to be her new neighbour - and there is an instant attraction. While Scarlett tries to ignore the attraction she begins to search for her mother, who left her with her father when she was only six months old -the search takes her to Paris and then back to London with her neighbour, Sean who appears to be the rock by her side. When she meets back up with her fiance, she compares the two of them to, who else but, Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy, but who will she choose??
The book is a great read and I devoured it in two days, I was unable to put it down, I had to read on. I was laughing and crying with the characters and at times shouting out when Scarlett made decisions. I will not spoil the ending but I was so happy with the ending, the right person won the girl.
The author's love of the films came through in the writing, so many details from each film was included, however they were cleverly woven into the story and did not distract from the storyline at all. There is lots of additional material at the back of the book too - a quiz and Ali McNamara does her own guide to Notting Hill, as well as Scarlett's favorite films with some little known facts about each film too. An excellent addition to the book.
I hope you can tell how much I enjoyed this book. I recommend it to all chick lit and chick flick fans alike.
Thank you to Hannah Hargrave of Little Brown Publishing for sending me this to review.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Stitch by Cath Kidston

Following the runaway success of Sew!, Cath Kidston has turned her unique designer's eye to Stitch! Reinventing the arts of needlepoint and cross stitch for today's crafter, Cath has injected her own distinctive style of cheery, heartwarming, homemaking prints into these traditional crafts. Her blossom rose floral design worked in needlepoint creates the most fabulous clutch bag - not a million miles away from those seen on the Fendi catwalk this season - whilst her seventies inspired pop flowers print makes a funky needlepoint cushion that wouldn't look out of place in any teenager's bedroom. There are plenty of quick, accessible and highly achievable projects throughout the book - Cath's popular quartet of fruit motifs, including the delectable cherries and apples, lend themselves brilliantly to making small cross stitched patches or badges that can adorn anything from a satchel pocket to a parka sleeve. In many projects to complement the stitched pieces, Cath has injected one of her trademark prints - for example, her polka dot and floral reworking of the needlepoint Union Jack is made up into a cushion using her iconic red dot cotton duck fabric for a backing. The beauty of both needlepoint and cross stitch is that they are worked on a canvas made up of a grid of squares, so - just like painting-by-numbers - it is virtually foolproof and a great result is guaranteed. And, as with Sew!, this book will include a unique giveaway kit: an exclusive stitching project for a zip-up purse. With over 20 charted designs to make up in either needlepoint or cross stitch, and over 40 finished projects that incorporate those designs into a variety of stylish items, Stitch! is guaranteed to have Cath fans and crafters everywhere stocking up on tapestry yarns and embroidery silks ready to get stitching.
I love Cath Kidston's style and I have both of her previous books and so was excited when I heard a third book was in the pipeline. As one of hobbies, as well as reading, is cross stitch, I was itching to get my hands on it!!
As with her previous two books there is a great kit included for one project. This one is for a purse with a stitched design to add to the front. There is also a great section at the front of the book with a stitch glossary, great pictures and technique descriptions. There is also a section of how to start, sewing essentials and those all important finishing touches.
Many of the projects included within the book have been photographed and described as needlepoint designs (with tapestry wools) however, i will be trying many of these projects substituting with cross stitch threads.
I really like the projects in the book, although as previously stated, i will be swapping the needlepoint designs for cross stitch. I also like the full instructions which includes all the finishing techniques, I have so many finished cross stitch designs which I need to display in some way - what a lot of ideas i can try from this book.
The Union Jack Cushion and the Cowboy seat cushions or cowboy picture will be the first designs I will be stitching from this book.
The projects are all accompanied by excellent colour photographs and some of Cath's top tips.
The only suggestion I would like to make for this book was that it was a shame that although there was a conversion chart for each project in the back of the book for the different manufacture threads (i.e. anchor/dmc and maderia) it would have been nice to have a conversion chart for tapestry threads to embroidery threads for those, like me, who would like to swap the tapestry/needlepoint designs for cross stitch and vice versa.
I hope you can see that i absolutely adored this book and I will be using it regularly for my stitching inspiration.
Thank you to Quadrille Publishing for sending me the book to review.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Birthday Party by Veronica Henry

Delilah Rafferty has lived out her tempestuous marriage to hell-raiser Raf in the full glare of the media spotlight. Now, from the luxurious comfort of her beautiful kitchen, Delilah is planning her birthday party, a night that will see a star-studded gathering of friends and family celebrate in traditional Rafferty style. But she has more on her mind than just invitations...Raf has been offered a part in a movie he can't refuse. But will that mean he'll succumb to the temptations he's struggled so hard to resist for the last ten years - beautiful women and too much wine? And Delilah's three daughters, Coco, Violet and Tyger, are building careers of their own, only too aware that the press are waiting for them to slip up. For although the Rafferty girls might look like angels, they are only human. As with all families, there are secrets and rivalries bubbling away, and on one gloriously starry night, it's all going to come spilling out This is your invitation to a birthday party of the year...

Veronica Henry is back and it is what she does best, Family Saga's!! The Rafferty family are headed up by a TV Chef and an actor who, following a drink dependency has been offered his first film in many years. They have three daughters'; an actress, a musician and an underwear designer who has just married a rock star.

I was looking forward to this book for many months and once I started it I was grabbing a chapter or two whenever possible. In true Henry style the story moves at a great pace, the characters are current and the issues they are up against are modern. There are many issues mentioned in the past including drug addiction and issues relating to sexuality to mention just two. The cover is one which would jump off the book shelf at you, bright, striking purple and black -what a great choice!
I really enjoyed this book and is a complete different style of read of Veronica's previous release, The Beach Hut, which was a collection of short stories. This book had a strong story throughout of family and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found myself wanting to read just a few more pages each night, to see what would happen next.
The characters reminded me of some people who grab the headlines today, however this was only a faint representation, they all have their own personalities and stories which kept me wanting to read more. All the characters were likeable and I found myself warming to each one - although I was shocked to discover Coco's secret vice but I thought Tyger was a great girl, slightly misunderstood and had a good heart.
Delilah, who's birthday party is that of which the book is titled, is a woman who goes through much throughout the book and I was in two minds what she would choose at the end of the book but I think she made a great decision. A television chef who finds herself passed over by the television company for a younger model, who disappears for a life of privacy and complete opposite to what she is used to before family emergency leaves her having to go back to her old life - will it all work out for the best??
i would recommend this book to veronica Henry fans and also fans of a good family saga. It is a great read and one which Henry fans will not want to put down!.
Thank you to Gaby Young from Orion Publishing Group for sending me a copy to review.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Must Be Love by Cathy Woodman

Vet Maz Harwood loves her job as a partner at a country vet practice in the picturesque town of Talyton St George. To add to her happiness, she's in love with the gorgeous Alex, and he seems to love her back. As the new year dawns, Maz can't help feeling that she's never been happier. But when her business partner Emma suffers a terrible tragedy, it's up to Maz to keep the practice going. Suddenly life is spiralling out of control, what with working all hours, fending off insults from Alex's parents, keeping one eye on the lusty locum, and dealing with Emma's precarious emotional state. It won't take much to upset the apple cart. So when Maz discovers she's pregnant, life gets even more complicated...
I really enjoyed Cathy Woodman's first book about Otter House Vets and have been looking forward to reading about what happens to Maz, Emma and Alex next. At the end of 'Trust Me, I'm a Vet' Emma was pregnant, Maz and Emma were partners in the vet's and Maz and Alex had finally started a relationship. This book continues from where it left us and it was like settling back into a well loved soap on the television.
This book covers a lot of the highs and lows of fertility and pregnancy, friends as business partners and the good old British weather! These themes are all within the day to day life at Otter Vet but as in the first book there is light hearted comedy, romance and tradegy within the book alongside the day to day life of a veterinary surgery.
I really enjoyed this book and am really hoping Cathy Woodman will be continuing with this series further. The village is portrayed as a close knit community and I would love to live in a country village like Talyton St George.
I would recommend this book to all and although it is the second book about Otter House Vets, the book could be read as a stand alone although read second, you will have the history of characters relationships etc. As I previously said, I absolutely adored this book and I laughed, cried, mourned and celebrated with the characters, and even shed a few tears at times.
Thank you to Cathy Woodman for sending me a copy of this book to review.
There is a great interview with Cathy Woodman at ChicklitReviews here:

Saturday, 9 October 2010

If You Could See Laughter by Many Coe

If You Could See Laughter is Mandy Coe's first collection of poetry for children. An award-winning poet, Mandy Coe is an educational specialist in poetry in schools and has been commissioned by CBeebies, the Book Trust, the Barbican and National Poetry Day to write poems and educational material for children of all ages. Her poetry has been described as 'Eliterally spell-binding'.
This is the first poetry book I have been asked to review and I am uncertain as to where to start. The book is a collection of Mandy Coe's work and is her first collection for children. The book contains over 50 poems covering a wide range of topics, many which have been written by Mandy along with a few written by others.
I started reading the poems from the beginning of the book and the first poem, 'Advice For', immediately got my attention and imagination going. This was continued throughout the book - who would of known that a poem about rhubarb would be written! I also loved the poem 'Wish' about a woman's life.
I really enjoyed reading these poems and the book is just the right size to slip into a pocket or bag for those moments where a spare few minutes can be filled with a good book.
Thank you to Salt Publishing for sending me this to review.

The Potty Penguin - Lucy Courtney (Animal Antics bk 3)

Pepper the penguin is desperate to fly, but her family and friends just laugh at her - everyone knows penguins can't fly! Pepper is determined to prove them wrong and sets to work, but try as she might she always seems to end up head-first in a snow drift. Can anyone help Pepper achieve her dream? A fantastic new series packed with crazy capers and brought to life by Phil Alderson's imaginative cartoon-style illustrations.

Pepper the penguin is a young penguin chick who should be spending his days practising her swimming but instead she sneaks away from her friends and tries to fly! Pepper makes friends with an injured albatross and brings him fish in return for him teaching her how to fly. However, the albatross decides he has regained his strength and will return home, just as Pepper's family find out about where she disappears to - but who told them? Was it her best friend or her cousin who is jealous of her? And who steps in to rescue her when she slides of a cliff into the sea where Neil the seal is waiting for her lunch to drop into his mouth?

I think this is a lovely book - great for children everywhere, whether they are being read to or reading it independently. The pictures are great -they are neither just cute or cartoony but great line drawings by Phil Alderson. The story talks about friendships, family rivalry and loyalty. I also liked the final two pages of the book which included some great 'Totally True' facts about penguins.

Thank you to Jane from Stripes Publishing for sending me this book to review. I will be passing it on to my children to enjoy just as much as me!!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Guerrilla Mum by Ellen Power

Getting the educational provision you need for your special needs child can feel like an uphill struggle. This book offers clear guidance on how authorities such as Local Education Authorities, schools, the National Health Service and the Government function, what the law entitles your child to, and how you can fight most effectively for the education they need. Basing the book on her own experience of bringing up two sons with special educational needs, Ellen Power describes how she worked with - and in some cases challenged - the authorities to get the right education for her children. Outlining what she did, how she did it, and how you can do the same, she explains clearly the implications of the Special Educational Needs code of practice and the Disability Discrimination Act, as well as giving advice on diagnosis, assessment, and dealing with the authorities. Further sections look at how to address issues such as transition between schools, and bullying. Interweaving real-life experience with practical advice, "Guerrilla Mum" is essential reading for parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

I am currently studying with the Open University for an Early Years degree and I was therefore very interested to read this book. As stated above, the book is written by a mother who has two sons with special needs and her battle to get them the education they deserve.
This book has been written by a mother, and the language used is everyday language. It includes technical language and abbreviations but these are explained in day to day language. It has many questions in it which people in similar positions want to ask but forget or are scared to ask and takes you through all the processes needed to get the right diagnosis and develop a plan to get the child into education - and most importantly - the right education for them.

There are tips in each chapter which are highlighted in a text box along with a checklist at the end of each chapter - a useful reminder of what was included in each chapter.

There are many subjects included within the book which may be worries of parents of children with special needs - bullying at school, benefits available and where to go to for support or advice.

I found this book to be a very useful resource book, written in plain English. I do not have a child with special needs but through this book i could see the struggles parents face to get what is needed for their children. I would recommend it to parents who do have children with special needs but also to students of any education and social care studies for a great overview of the system.

Thank you to Michael from mychild forum for sending me this book to review.

Do you dread maths homework? Panic at the thought of a test? Does maths bore you to tears? Don't worry - help is here! Actress and mathematician Danica McKellar's bestselling guide proves that maths can be easy, relevant and even cool, and gives you all the tools you need to ace your next test. With Danica as your personal tutor, even the most maths-phobic student will finally 'get' fractions, equations, decimals, rates, ratios, proportions, equations and more.
This book has been written by Hollywood actress and a bona fide mathematician, Danica McKellar (of the Wonder Years). She is also a champion of maths learning for girls as it has been found that following primary school, girls find the transition to secondary schools maths difficult

The book is written for teenage girls, in their language, bringing crucial context to mathematical rules, procedures and reasoning.

I was unsure when I saw this book was written by an American. I do not get on with books written from an Americans point of view - using the American slang and jargon, however, I was surprised by this book. Lots of mathematics are included in the book: percentages, fractions, ratios
The book includes problems to solve, with answers given in the book, and detailed workings on the supporting website - great backup support!! There are also some great 'girlie' fun bits - personality quizzes and horoscopes all with a mathematical angle.

The book assumes there is knowledge of both long division and times tables - however, times tables are noted in the back of the book and long division is reviewed on the website (again great back up support).

The book is split into chapters, each one tackling a different mathematical topic. The topic is explained in simple terms, using scenarios and examples a girl would relate to and the problems are worked through in Danica's own handwriting. Each chapter also ends with Danica's takeaway tips, which are summaries of the main points of the chapter in an easy to read format.

As I previously stated I am not too keen on books with too many Americanisms which are trying to teach English subjects, however, I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I think this book is a great idea and will be popular with girls and their parents - I will be recommending it to some of my friends and their daughters and will be keeping it on the book shelf ready for when my daughter reaches high school in a few years.

Thank you to Michael from mychild forum for sending me this book to review.