Challenge Participant


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Basher Science - Algebra and Geometry. Anything but square.

Basher Science: Algebra and Geometry

Meet Polygon and Plane, Reflection and Rotation, Odd Number and his buddy Even Number and the three amigos Sine, Cosine and Tangent. Discover the secrets of their world and how they like to throw their numbers about. "Algebra & Geometry" is a compelling guide to the community of characters who make mathematics interesting.

Another book in the Basher Science range. This one is about Algebra and Geometry and has chapters entitled: Counting Crews; Number Nutters; Cranium Crackers; Graph Gang; Shape Sisters; Transformation Team; Trig-Athletics; and In The Round. A lot of these subjects can be difficult to understand, however with the Basher style of explanation I think they could be easier to understand. Basher use cartoon style images throughout their book and the text is written as if spoken by the subject themselves. One negative for this book however is that the equations and explanation of methodology is all lumped together in a block of text and not separated out as in traditional textbooks, therefore making it more difficult to follow through the method. However, the way they explain the methodology is very clever and I think that if a child does not understand traditional methods, this is an alternative idea to try. I would recommend it for older children though.

Thank you to the publishers, Kingfisher, for sending me the book to review.

Basher Basics - Grammar. Write Here, Write Now.

Basher Basics: Grammar

*With its lively, creative approach, this is a unique and highly memorable one-stop guide to using language clearly, expressively and correctly. Each grammar basic from parts of speech to sentence components to groupings and agreements is represented by its own character, who explains in their own words what makes them tick and how they are used. Plenty of practical advice will help every child unravel the rules and regulations of the English language.

Another book from the Basher range of books. This book is based on Grammar and contains chapters on: Punctuation; What's the Word?; Team Sentence; Me and My Shadow; and Friends United. Each page contains a clear Do and Don't, with easy to remember wording. As with the other Basher book i have reviewed, the book is full of cartoon images and the text is all written as if spoken by the subject. I think this style is easier for children to understand, however I think it is better for older children (Key Stage 2+). The grammar rules are written in an interesting, but informative way and in a way in which can be easily remembered. They are written in an almost story way. A unique idea which I think could be used with people who are finding it difficult to understand grammar rules.

Thank you to the publishers, Kingfisher, for sending me the book to review.

Planet Earth - What Planet are you on?

Basher Science: Planet Earth: What Planet are You On?

Discover the secrets of the planet we call home, from its fiery insides to the landforms and lifeforms on its surface; unlock the mysteries of Earth's ever-moving surface with its watery depths and snowy peaks, the activity in its atmosphere and the teeming life that makes it unique. "Planet Earth" is a compelling guide to a community of characters who keep the world in motion.

This is one of the books in the Basher Science range and is a unique series in all things science!

The book is small - a great stocking filler but is jam packed full of information. This book is all about Earth and contains chapters entitled: Earth; The Insiders; Going Global; Landlubbers; Wet! Wet! Wet!; Weather Gang; and Lively Gang. The images throughout the book are cartoons and the text throughout the book is written as if spoken by each subject i.e. volcanoes, weather etc. 

This book is definitely not the usual kind of science textbook. It is child friendly  - although the concepts included within would make me recommend it for children aged 9+ however the look of it would appeal to younger children. There is lots of useful information included within the book and I learnt a lot from the book however I think it would have to used alongside other resources to gain a full knowledge of the subject, however as a tool to gain a child's interest in the subject I would definitely recommend it! It is one of those books that could be dipped into at any point and a useful fact would be immediately found! 

I would recommend this as a great stocking filler, as a book for someone who has an interest in the earth or who likes learning useless facts but it is definitely for an older child or adult.

Thank you to the publishers, Kingfisher, for sending me the book to review.

Friday, 23 December 2011

The Usborne Book of Castles (internet linked)

The Usborne Book of Castles: Internet-linked

This is a new edition of this hugely entertaining guide to castles, published in association with English Heritage. This book helps you to find out what it was like to live inside a castle, discover where people ate, slept and made merry and even experience a siege in action in this packed and informative history. Stunning photographs are combined with artwork and unique computer graphics so that readers will experience the world of castles as never before. A selection of recommended websites is spread throughout the book. These allow readers to discover even more about castle life, including virtual tours and exciting and innovative games.

As I said in my previous review, the theme of work for my children this term has been Castles and when the theme was first announced, I scoured the library shelves and catalogue for suitable books which may assist with future homework and this was top of my list! It is a one stop book for all things castle related. I would say that this is the most info laden of Usborne's castle books and is suitable for Key Stage 2 and upwards homework. At this point, I would also like to mention another of Usborne's castle books see inside castles, which my son (age 7, year 3) found very interesting and easy to understand) for his homework. This book was used more by my 9 year old daughter.

The book is split into six sections: an introduction; stone castles; war; the age of chivalry (knights and heraldry); castle life;the beginning of the end.  There is a lot of information included within this book and there is many factual information along with photographs and illustrations  and most of the double page spreads include a box with Internet links for extra research. There is also a page towards the end of the book with hints, tips and advice about using the Internet for research. There are maps included of castles in Europe and Japan and the Middle East within the book.

This would be a fantastic book to buy for children who love castles and want to know more but also this is a must have for any school library - for both primary and secondary schools.

Thank you to the publishers, Usborne, for sending me the book to review.

Castles by Stephanie Turnbull (Usborne Beginners)

Castles - Usborne Beginners

Who lived in a castle and what was it like? In this book you'll find the answers and lots more about the wonderful world of castles.

Castles is part of an exciting series of books for children who are beginning to read on their own. The easy-to-read text has been specifically written with the help of a reading expert.

This term, the theme for my children's primary school and so I have been looking through many books about castles helping with homework etc. However, I had not seen this book and it is perfect for the younger years (Key Stage 1 and maybe even to share with Early Years).

The book has a combination of drawings and photographs and is a great introduction for younger children about castles and life within a castle before looking at the more detailed and fantastic books that Usborne have published about Castles.

This book talks about castles in general, the types of castles, life within castles and also how people entertained themselves, what they ate, jousting and how they defended their castles. 

The information provided is to the point and in easy to understand language and will encourage children to want to know more about castles.  There is a glossary of castle related terms at the back of the book, an Internet link to encourage further learning about castles and also an index - a necessity for non fiction books and also great to be included in books for this age group.

I would recommend this as a great book for young castle lovers. There are over 45 books in the Beginners series by Usborne and I will be recommending them to the Early Years and Key Stage 1 departments at my children's primary school.

Thank you to the publishers, Usborne, for sending my son and I this book to review following his recent hospital stay.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Confessions of a Karaoke Queen by Ella Kingsley

Confessions of a Karaoke Queen

Maddie Mulhern is suddenly in charge. Her parents - former 80s pop duo Pineapple Mist - have left for the summer on a nostalgia tour, entrusting her to manage their struggling karaoke bar, Sing It Back. Panicking over the dodgy finances, Maddie takes a gamble: she signs up for a fly-on-the-wall reality TV series. With her faithful staff (divalicious drag queen Ruby, shy barman Simon and wannabe actress Jasmine) she'll transform the bar into a huge success. Simple. Right? Executive Producer Evan Bergman knows that scandal sells. It's no coincidence that he hires cool, attractive Nick Craven as director. Evan wants drama on screen - and he'll do anything to get it. As the series builds to a live finale, will Maddie see the truth in a Careless Whisper? Will Nick be able to keep his Poker Face? One thing's for sure: we all do things at karaoke that we regret ...

With a title like Confessions of a Karaoke Queen I was expecting a book full of karaoke sessions with cringeworthy performances which are governed by the high and low points of the characters life. However, I was pleasantly surprised, what this book actually is, is about a reality television show looking for a struggling bar to relaunch with a new interior and comical staff who will beam in to the homes of its millions of viewers and by the end of the series be a proper sucess. However, I don't think the show's producers/management knew what they were letting themselves in for with Maddie. Maddie is the daughter of an 80s pop duo, who have left Maddie in charge of their karaoke bar while they go on a nostalgia tour. Maddie is not pleased to be left in charge of the bar and once she gets into the bar and realises what a mess it is in, both financially and physically, when she sees the advert for the show, looking for a bar, she thinks this could be a great oppurtunity to turn the business around before her parents return. Of course, it is not as easy as Maddie thinks and the production company, although they seem kind and professional, have alot of tricks up their sleeves which Maddie does not see coming. Whether the bar is a sucess or not I will not reveal, you need to read the book to find that one out.

Each chapter of the book is a song title and is a great list of 80s memories to go through! 

I found that the setting for the book was interesting - a run down karaoke bar in desperate need of a makeover. I can not think of any books which has had karaoke as a main theme. The reality show was also a great storyline and lifted the lid on some of the 'tricks' these reality shows use to 'spice' up the show.   The book was not, however, all about karaoke. It had a great storyline - a bit of romance, a bit of sneekiness, bit of know he is up to something, but what? and a bit of will they, won't they, we all love.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted an easy read, and it will remind the reader of some great hits from the 80s and 90s! There is something for everyone in this book - I was laughing, crying and also remembering some of the more cringe-worthy hits of the 1980s!

This is another author I really hope I will be seeing more of and I will definitely be picking up her next book!

Thank you to the publishers, Sphere, for sending me the book to review. 

Just William by Richmal Crompton

Just William

There is only one Just William. The loveable imp has been harassing his unfortunate family and delighting hundreds of thousands of readers for years. Here, the Outlaws plan a day of non-stop adventure. The only problem is, William is meant to be babysitting. But William won't let that stop him having fun with his gang - he'll just bring the baby along!

I loved the Just William books when I was younger and following its successful recent television series, my son and daughter have also become great fans. 

I love this edition of the book, with the vintage William illustration on the hardback cover, it is very similar to the copy I had when I was younger. My daughter has recently treated herself to the edition which has stills from the recent television adaptation, but the stories remain the same and William is just as mischievous! There are 12 stories included within this book and they are the original stories, not updated to include child friendly words or PC situations. I would say that this is for adults who want to reminisce. It is a reminder of how children used to behave and look up to their elders.

The book contains original pencil sketched illustrations to accompany the stories and are fantastic, they add to the vintage style of this edition.

I would recommend this as a great gift for the older Just William fans who want to reminisce over the festive period.

Thank you to the publishers, Macmillan's Children's Books, for sending my son and I this book to review following his recent hospital treatment.

Football things to make and do

Football Things to Make and Do - Usborne Activities

This is a brand new addition to the best-selling "Usborne Activities" series. It is guaranteed to have young children cheering in the terraces with its football themed activities, including a muddy training ground painting, a penalty shoot-out card and footballer finger puppets. Every activity is clearly and vividly illustrated in an appealing and colourful style, with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions. It contains fantastic football stickers that can be used to make the activities even more decorative.

A perfect book for crafty football fans! I could use many of the ideas for a football themed party or to embellish a football themed bedroom. 

The activities are pitched at the right level, with minimum complexity, much of each activity could be completed by a child aged 7+ with little help. The activities are broken down into easy steps with diagrams or pictures included for each step. There are pictures of the finished project for each project and they are written in child friendly language. The equipment and 'ingredients' needed for each project are easily sourced and most are available around the home. One thing I would say as a negative was that there was not an 'ingredient' list at start of each project.

Well done to Usborne - another great book. Fantastic project ideas and the book also includes 200 stickers to embellish completed projects.

Thank you to the publishers, Usborne, for sending me the book to review.

Usborne Soccer School

Complete Soccer School - Usborne Soccer School S.

Usborne Soccer School is an exciting and comprehensive guide that teaches you all you need to know about the fame. It is packed with stunning action photographs, helpful, east to understand diagrams and suggestions for games and exercises. Learn how to dribble past your opponents, make a crucial tackle and score with a spectacular overhead kick.

Whether you want to be a great attacker, brave defender or athletic goalkeeper, Usborne Soccer School can help you achieve your goals.

An introduction to all aspects of the 'beautiful game' - perfect for players and coaches alike. Contains everything the young footballer could need to know, whether they want to be an agile attacker, dangerous defender or a great goalkeeper. Packed with action photographs and helpful, easy-to-understand diagrams. Produced in consultation with football experts at the Bobby Charlton International Soccer School. Contains the individual Usborne titles 'Dead Ball Skills', 'Defending', 'Goalkeeping' and 'Passing and Shooting'.

Another fantastic book from the team at Usborne! My son is getting into football in a big way recently and I would love to be able to send him to a soccer school, however as with many people I am unable to afford this and this book is the next best thing - covering the basic skills, giving explanations and advice on the skills needed to be a great footballer, along with hints and tips along the way, this is a great handbook for all footballers.

The previous book I reviewed, 50 soccer skills, is perfect for quick reference or the younger player. This book is perfect for an older child, skills are more detailed and explanations longer. There are both photographs and diagrams which accompany and explain each element and there are plenty of pictorial as well as wordy explanations for each skill or element. 

The book is split into eight sections: ball control, passing and shooting; dead ball skills; defending; attacking; tactics; goalkeeping; and training and fitness and has a lot of information in every section - a real football school experience.

I would recommend this as the perfect gift for a slightly older wannabee footballer - 7-9+ because of the level of information included.

Thank you to the publishers, Usborne, for sending me the book as part of a review package for my son following his recent hospital stay.

50 Soccer Skills (Usborne)

50 Soccer Skills - Usborne Activities

Featuring 50 different soccer skills, perfect for budding David Beckhams, rising Ronaldos and potential Paul Robinsons, these cards cover all aspects of the game from attack to defence and provide an indispensable guide. This is a valuable resource for coaches as well as players, and fantastically portable, making them perfect for use on any occasion. Full colour photography illustrates the manoeuvres and techniques for each shot and tactic. It is accompanied by clear step-by-step instructions. It is spiral bound to allow easy use and transportation, and means no card will ever get lost!

My son has discovered football over the past year and this book is a perfect book for him! The book has 50 different football skills included - many I have never heard of! The lofted drive?? Anyway, 50 different skills I am sure every wannabe premiership footballer needs to able to perform to get on in the game.

The book has been thought about in every possible way. The book is spiral bound, meaning it can be laid flat and left on the ground to refer to when practising each skill. The pages are also of  a thicker paper/nearly card and appear very tough. I know my son can be heavy handed with pages and as it is spiral bound this could of been an issue, but the thicker pages out this worry out of the window.  Each skill has a brief explanation under the title and then is described in easy English with pictures as appropriate - it is a diagram and photograph heavy book but each skill has few steps, making them easy to follow and pick up. 

The skills are split into: Ball Control; Passing and Shooting; Defending; Dead Ball Skills; and Goal Keeping. There are skills on the first touch of a match right through to taking penalties and also referee signals, skills for all parts of the game.

The book is aimed at children and is perfect for children aged 5+. I would recommend it as a perfect gift for all budding David Beckham's out there!

Thank you to the publishers, Usborne, for sending me this book as part of a recent package to review with my son during his recent hospital stay.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Perfect Christmas by Georgie Carter

All I want for Christmas is you! If you're a wedding planner it's best not to have affairs with married men. This is one cardinal rule that Robyn always abides by. But then she meets Jonathan! After a delicious dalliance in the dance studio, Robyn and Jonathan fall truly, madly, deeply in love. Jonathan justifies his actions because his wife is a workaholic, while Robyn finds the glamour -- free from any mundane concerns -- thrilling. But then the pressure mounts up: the guilt; the lies; the strain of it all. With the festive season approaching, can Robyn make this the best holiday ever or will it be the nightmare before Christmas? This is the perfect winter read for fans of Milly Johnson and Kate Harrison.

This is a lovely Christmas read and I would recommend it to all chick lit fans. Georgie Carter is actually a pen name for Ruth Saberton (author of Katy Carter wants a hero and Ellie Andrews has second thoughts). This is her first book published by Avon and is a great 'debut' novel.

The book was well written and I loved Georgie's style - very easy to read and loose yourself in. There were descriptive sections of the text, not only of scenery but also of people, their mannerisms, their facial expressions but then the story flowed well and neither glossed over nor went into detail of every bit of the story.

The main character, Robyn Hood,  is a wedding planner, who has recently left a popular and well known wedding planner and has set up on her own. There are attempts by her previous employer to outdo her and there are some nasty coincidences throughout the book - sour grapes seem to be the word for those! I would love to have had my wedding planned by Robyn. There are many different weddings throughout the book - a high profile showbiz star, a low cost aussie beach style wedding in London for two friends and the wedding of her ex fiance to the girl who stole him from Robyn. There is a strong theme throughout the book of relationships - both the love of the couple getting married, but also their relationship with Robyn and also Robyn's relationship with her mother and also friends both new and old.  

Although the book is called a perfect Christmas, I was surprised to find that Christmas featured at both the beginning and end of the book but were not the main focus of the book - however, do not let this put you off picking up this book this Christmas period. It is the perfect chick lit book to get lost in and curl up on a sofa while the kids (and husband) are playing with their new toys and/or gadgets.

I really hope this is not the only book Georgie Carter will release, I really look forward to reading more from this author.

Thank you to the publishers, Avon, for sending me this book to review.

The Writing of Manhattan by Ronni Cooper

Ronni Cooper's second novel is being released today and she has kindly sent me an article about writing Manhattan to share with my readers:

Writing Manhattan took a few months, but the planning? I think I may have broken some kind of world record as it’s been floating around in my head for over twenty years.

It started, aptly, in the middle of Central Park, as I lay on the grass, alternating between flirtatious glances at a gorgeous guy playing baseball nearby and reading a bonkbuster that was so heavy my biceps were feeling the strain. I can even remember what I was wearing – denim shorts, black boots, a white T-shirt and a leather waistcoat. They say that the 80s is the decade that taste forgot. Obviously, no-one filled me in on this info until some time around 1995.

I’d headed to New York for a couple of weeks break from managing a wild nightclub in the UK. I was in my early twenties and life was incredible: dangerous, sexy, unpredictable, filled with steamy encounters and fuelled by adrenalin and Marlboro Lights.

As I flipped down a page filled with Shirley Conran’s genius, I started to dream. If I had a nightclub in New York, what would it look like? Who would go there? What would set it apart from all the other clubs?

Somehow, in the glorious sunshine and picture-perfect setting of the park, those thoughts turned to fiction. Raine. Her name came to me immediately. She was a feisty, ballsy chick of Irish descent and she was calling the shots in the club. Stevie came next. A reluctant rock star with a huge heart. And finally Mei-lin. Shanghai was a city I knew well and this inspired the beautiful, enigmatic girl with the tortured past.

Over the next two decades, the story would pop into my mind and I’d change and shape it until last year, long after I’d swapped my career from nightclubs to novels, when I finally wrote it down.

Manhattan – a hot, sexy tale of three women determined to rise to the top of the New York nightclub scene and prepared to sacrifice anything to survive.
Oh, and the gorgeous guy who was playing baseball in the park that day? That story is in the sequel….

Thank you to Ronni for visiting my blog and my review of Manhattan will be following soon.

Manhattan Winners

Congratulations to Lindsay, Sharon Goodwin, Michelle Easters, Mandy Baggott and Rosie - you have all won copies of Manhattan by Ronni Cooper. 

Mandy please can you email or tweet me your address and I will pass all winners details to the publishers today for them to send the books directly to you all.

Congratulations to you all and please visit my blog again in 2012 when I hope to have more competitions.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Only Nooglebooglers Glow in the Dark by James McKnight

Only Nooglebooglers Glow in the Dark - McDoogle's Monster Farm

Farmer McDoogle has a very unusual farm. On his farm he doesn't keep chickens, cows or pigs. He doesn't grow potatoes or carrots. On his farm he keeps monsters!Nooglebooglers glow in the dark when they eat Difflebug leaves. When there is a power cut on the farm, only the Nooglebooglers can shine a light on the matter!

The second book from the new series, McDoogle's Monster Farm, by Top That Publishing. I have previously reviewed the first book on this blog. 

This story concentrates on the noogleboogler, who's poo Farmer McDoogle turns into electricity to use on the farm, via a special machine. Mr and Mrs McDoogle are hosting a party for all the visitors to the farm throughout the year and their friends. When the special poo electricity machine breaks down, Diggle quickly finds some Difflebug leaves and feeds them to the Noogleboogler, who glow in the dark when they eat these leaves. The Nooglebooglers save the day and the party continues.

Another fantastic book written by James Knight and illustrated by Mark Chambers. Children will love this fantastic story and the animals will grab the children's attention immediately.

This would make a lovely gift to a child this Christmas, a fun book to share at bed time or to share during a quiet time during the festivities. I would recommend it for slightly older children as the story is quite long. 

Thank you to the publishers, Top That Publishing, for sending me the book to review.

The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped by James Knight

The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped - McDoogle's Monster Farm

Farmer McDoogle has a very unusual farm. On his farm he doesn't keep chickens, cows or pigs. He doesn't grow potatoes or carrots. On his farm he keeps monsters!
Diggle must use all of his expert monster knowledge, and a bag of smelly old socks, to find a missing Gogglynipper. Will he find the Gogglynipper before Farmer McDoogle finds out?

This is a new book series from Top That Publishing and is based at McDoogles Monster Farm. The book starts with a general introduction to McDoogles Monster Farm, a farm which is different to any other farm. A farm where you won't find cows or sheep or chickens. On this farm they don't grow potatoes or carrots. It is the most unusual farm of all .... it is McDoogle's Monster Farm.
The monsters who reside at the farm are all introduced  and their characteristics described.

In this book, a Googlynipper has gone missing. Googlynippers over react in any event and when Diggle discovers that one has escaped when he goes to herd them into their enclosure for the night, he knows he must find it as soon as possible. Diggle searches for the missing Googlynipper, along with his dog, Noober, and when he finds him in a dark cave, he worries about how he is going to get him home - but the Googlynipper soon picks up a favourite scent and rushes home. What that scent is, you need to read to find out!

This book is perfect for children who love something a bit different. The author, James Knight and the illustrator, Mark Chambers, have created some fantastic monsters, which i am sure children will fall in love with. The illustrations throughout the book are fantastic. They are simple pictures, accompanying the story perfectly, and perfect to capture children's imagination. 

I would recommend this book as a perfect gift for children who have lots of imagination and love a tale including made up animals etc. I would recommend the book would be perfect for slightly older children (age 5+) because there are quite a few words on each page, needing the child to listen to the story before a page can be turned.

Thank you to the publishers, Top That Publishing, for sending me the book to review. 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

I Heart Vegas by Lindsey Kelk

I Heart Vegas

After her first standalone novel, The Single Girl's To-Do List, Lindsey returns with a sparkling and romantic new novel in the I Heart series. Angela Clark loves her life in New York. She a Brit who's conquered the Big Apple. Unfortunately, she's also a Brit who's lost her job. And when, just a couple of weeks before Christmas, the immigration department gets wind of this, Angela needs to find a new job urgently. Or a husband. And she doesn't think her boyfriend Alex will be keen. A girls' weekend in Vegas with her best friend Jenny seems the perfect way to forget her troubles. From the minute they arrive Angela is swept up in a whirl of cocktails, outrageous outfits, late nights and brushes with the chapel of love. But rather than escaping trouble, Angela is up to her neck in it!. But what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas -- right? With a bonus Angela's Guide to Vegas - the ultimate city break guide!

The fourth book in the series written by Lindsey Kelk about Angela Clark, an English girl, living in USA. Although it is preferable to have read the previous books in the series, the book could be picked up and read as a stand alone but I think anyone who did this would soon be picking up the other three books and finding out all about Angela.

At the end of the last book, I Heart Paris, Angela lost her magazine job and the American Immigration have found out and send Angela a letter to tell her she has thirty days to leave the country. In typical Angela and her friends style they decide there are two options - find another job or marry her boyfriend, Alex. Only problem is Alex is away on tour with his band and when he returns, Angela is unsure how to brooch the subject. She doesn't want to marry just for a visa, but wants a marriage filled with love. In true Angela style she pretends it isn't happening and hides the letter. 

Her best friend Jenny organises a girls weekend to Vegas, which happens to coincide with Alex being on a stag do to Vegas. I won't spoil the story but what will happen in Vegas - will Alex find out and will they get married and live happily ever after?

This book is a great read. Angela Clark is a great lead character - she is funny but has lots of bad luck. However, she does nothing to help herself in many situations - sits back and lets it happen. I also really like Alex - he is not the usual boy band lead singer, but cares and wants to be with Angela. Jenny, Angela's best friend is still another main character and I would love someone like her to be their for me in my time of need!

I enjoy reading about Angela and although this is the fourth book in the series,  it still feels fresh and Angela's adventures are new each book. The series still has plenty of life left in it and I for one are looking forward to next year's release, I heart London. There are many events and gadgets etc that keep the book current - this has the inclusion of the Twilight saga and film.

I recommend this to book to all chick lit fans but especially lovers of Sophie Kinsella. A fantastic read and one which has left me looking forward to book five in the series!

Thank you to the publishers, Harper Collins, for sending me the book to review.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Breakfast at Darcy's - Ali McNamara

Breakfast at Darcy's

When Darcy McCall loses her beloved Aunt Molly, she doesn't expect any sort of inheritance - let alone a small island. Located off the west coast of Ireland, Tara hasn't been lived on for years, but according to Molly's will Darcy must stay there for twelve months in order to fully inherit, and she needs to persuade a village full of people to settle there, too. Darcy has to leave behind her independent city life and swap stylish heels for muddy wellies. Between sorting everything from the plumbing to the pub, Darcy meets confident Conor and ever-grumpy Dermot - but who will make her feel really at home?

One of my favorite books from last year was Ali McNamara's debut novel 'From Notting Hill with Love ......Actually' and I have therefore been waiting for Ali's second novel with great expectations, and I have not been disappointed.

Breakfast at Darcy's is a completely different book to Ali's first book, but it is still just as good. The main character, Darcy, goes to her Aunt's funeral and is shocked to find she is the sole beneficiary of her Aunt's estate, which includes a small island. However before she can inherit the estate, she must live on the island for 12 months and build a community of at least 15 people living there throughout the year. The plot reminded me of the television show, Castaway, which was broadcast on the BBC in 1999, where people, including Ben Fogle, lived on a scottish island for twelve months upto the new millenium. The book follows Darcy as she has to make up her mind if she will leave London, her job and her friends. The book follows her journey while she sets up the island, organising building work, interviewing and selecting of who will live on the island and their time on the island, one year of their lives and one which none of them will forget. There are family reunions, celebrations, deaths and romances within the story and I enjoyed every second of it!

As I have previously said, this book is a very different story to McNamara's previous book but I loved it. The story, although far fetched, was believable. I am sure many elderly aunts own islands and they would have to think very carefully about who to pass ownership to when they die. As I have said, the setting up of the community reminds me of the television reality show, Castaway, and it was great to meet each new resident of the island and see the community grow.

The story is not only about the new community being built on the island, but also the history held within the island; the Claddagh ring and the building on the island.

Another thing I loved about the book was the wonderful descriptive narrative that McNamara slips in to describe the landscape of Tara (the island). It sounds beautiful and would be lovely to visit one day.

I would love to read more about Darcy and her man (I am not going to spoil it by letting on who Darcy falls in love with) and also Roxi - a very unlikely island resident, but one who definitely adds something unique to the community, and who will not let a craggy island stop her from wearing her own fashion and the compulsory high heels. 

I would recommend this book to chick lit lovers everywhere, a great book to snuggle up with this Christmas, especially if the forecast snow arrives soon. It is one of those books that you can loose yourself in and is a great, quick read.

Thank you to the publishers, Sphere, for sending me this book to review.

Daisy and Dancer by Kelly McKain (Pony Camp Diaries)

Daisy and Dancer - Pony Camp Diaries Bk.12

Daisy is thrilled to be at Pony Camp, where she teams up with gorgeous pony Dancer and quickly makes friends with her room-mates, twins Rosie and Isabel. When their instructor Sally takes them to see her friend perform a daring riding display, the girls are inspired to create their own. Rosie and Isabel are keen gymnasts and come up with a complex acrobatic routine for the three to perform at Friday's barbecue party. Daisy is desperate not to let her friends down, but she struggles, especially as Dancer spooks at everything too! Can Daisy and Dancer make a brilliant partnership in time to wow the crowd? Written in diary form, this is the twelfth book in a brilliant series that is perfect for all pony-mad girls.

This book was a good read, perfect for girls with a love of horse. Daisy keeps a diary of her time at Pony Camp and describes her time during the official and unofficial activities of the week. 

I know nothing about horses and their care and training but I thought that the book included some great tips about horses and their upkeep. There was also a  sub storyline about confidence and friendship which was a great inclusion within the book. This is something which I think young girls often suffer with and it was covered in a fantastic way.

One thing I liked about the book was the pencil illustrations throughout the book, they were small inclusions within the story but they were detailed. However, I was disappointed with the cover which included a photograph, it would have been great to have a larger illustration on the cover, similar to those within the book.

I would recommend this as a great gift for a horse loving girl - I would recommend this as a book more suitable for a girl than a boy as all the characters are female and they are girly girls rather than tomboys.

Thank you to the publishers, Stripes Publishing, for sending me the book to review.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Agatha Raisin As the Pig Turns by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin as the Pig Turns - Agatha Raisin 22

Winter Parva, a traditional Cotswolds village next door to Carsely, has decided to throw a celebratory hog roast to mark the beginning of the winter holiday festivities and Agatha Raisin has arrived with friend and rival in the sleuthing business, Toni, to enjoy the merriment. But as the spit pig is carried towards the bed of fiery charcoal Agatha - and the rest of the village - realise that things aren't as they seem...Very quickly it transpires that the spit pig is in fact Gary Beech, a policeman not much loved in Winter Parva. And although Agatha has every intention of leaving the affair to the police, she rapidly changes her mind when she finds out Gary's ex-wife has hired Toni to investigate. Cantankerous and competitive as Agatha is, she has to now join the fray and try and solve the case herself! Praise for M C Beaton's "Agatha Raisin series": "I know I once vowed to read only Agatha Christie for a year but I cheated. My No. 1 mistress, M.C. Beaton and her Agatha Raisin whodunits. Agatha is like Miss Marple with a drinking problem, a pack a day habit and major man lust. In fact, I think she may be living my dream life". ("Entertainment Weekly"). "Once again M. C. Beaton has concocted an amusing brew of mystery and romance that will keep her fans turning the pages". ("Publisher's Weekly"). "Pure entertainment". ("The Guardian").

This is my first delve into the world of Agatha Raisin - a private investigator who has a small investigative team who support her with any work which comes her way. When I have seen these books in shops I must admit that I have assumed Agatha Raisin was an older character, close to the age of Miss Marple, however I am assuming I am wrong about that age having seen the picture on the back of teh book. I like the cover of this book, the other covers I have seen give the impression of a book more aimed at the older generation (I would love to know if I am the only person who thinks this about these books).

Anyway - the storyline follows Agatha as she attends a pig roast in Winter Parva, however Agatha makes a grim discovery, the 'meat' on the spit is actually human with a pig's head stitched to it! The identification of the body is helped due to a tattoo and Agatha soon decides that she will 'assist' with the investigation after she is employed by the deceased's previous wife who considers that the current wife must be  prime suspect.

The continuing investigation leads to Agatha becoming prime suspect in a number of crimes and one which Agatha investigates, then leaves it and then investigates it again. But will she solve the crime - I will not spoil it for other readers!

I think this book could be described a guilty pleasure, a book that will never top the best crime and investigation, however it is a book full of hilarity and mishaps and one which I consumed quickly. It is only just under 200 pages long and one which can be read quickly. It has encouraged me to read further Agatha Raisin books and as I grew up near the area that it is set in, I will be interested to read about the fictitious villages and real towns included within the books. This is the 22nd book in the series and so there are there is a large back catalogue to explore.

I would recommend this to readers who want a lighthearted 'crime' novel, one which could be devoured in an afternoon and does not involve blood, guts and gore.

Thank you to the publishers, Constable and Robinson, for sending me the book to review.

Book Giveaway - Manhattan by Ronni Cooper

I have another fantastic book giveaway for my blog, again from the very generous publishers, Sphere. The book is Manhattan by Ronni Cooper which I will be reviewing on my blog later this week. I have five copies to give away.


Raine: Born in Brooklyn, the undisputed queen of the City, Raine owns the sexiest, starriest nightclub in New York - and no one is ever going to take her crown. Mei-Lin: The beautiful, enigmatic madam moves in all the right circles - but it wasn't always that way. Now her American dream has become a nightmare and she may have to pay the ultimate price for freedom. Stevie: Once the lead singer of the biggest female rock band in the world, Stevie is now flying solo - but she has a secret that could destroy her. Now all three women are about to discover that payback is the biggest bitch of all...

To be entered into the competition for a copy of this book:
  1. become a follower of my blog and comment on this post only (1 entry)
  2. tweet about the competition (1 entry) (please include me in the tweet @sbroadhurst) and add a link to the comment below.
This is a UK only Giveaway, sorry for international followers of my blog.

Winners will be drawn at 6pm on Tuesday 20th December 2011 and the books will be posted out by the publisher. 

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Winners of Confessions of a Karaoke Queen

Thank you for the entries into my competition. The winners are: Michelle Easters, Sharon Goodwin, Carolyn Montgomery, Mary Payne and Rosie.
Please could you all send me your address to asap and i will ask the publishers to send the books directly to you.

I will have another competition running next week.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Book Giveaway - Confessions of a Karaoke Queen by Ella Kingsley

Confessions of a Karaoke Queen

Maddie Mulhern is suddenly in charge. Her parents - former 80s pop duo Pineapple Mist - have left for the summer on a nostalgia tour, entrusting her to manage their struggling karaoke bar, Sing It Back. Panicking over the dodgy finances, Maddie takes a gamble: she signs up for a fly-on-the-wall reality TV series. With her faithful staff (divalicious drag queen Ruby, shy barman Simon and wannabe actress Jasmine) she'll transform the bar into a huge success. Simple. Right? Executive Producer Evan Bergman knows that scandal sells. It's no coincidence that he hires cool, attractive Nick Craven as director. Evan wants drama on screen - and he'll do anything to get it. As the series builds to a live finale, will Maddie see the truth in a Careless Whisper? Will Nick be able to keep his Poker Face? One thing's for sure: we all do things at karaoke that we regret ...

Confessions of a Karaoke Queen is a fabulously funny, fresh and fast-paced rom-com, and perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Kinsella.

Praise for Ella Kingsley:
‘As sparkly and feel-good as a glittery disco ball. Ella Kingsley is such a fresh and funny new voice. Pass her the mic, we want more!’
Carmen Reid
'Ella Kingsley’s riotous novel has all the ingredients of a great karaoke night with the girls – dubious singing, laughs galore and a reminder of the fun to be had when you don’t take things too seriously.'
Jane Costello 

I will be reviewing this book on my blog soon, but in the mean time, the lovely people at Sphere have offered me five copies of the book to giveaway on my blog. 

To be entered into the competition for a copy of this book:
  1. become a follower of my blog and comment on this post only (1 entry)
  2. tweet about the competition (1 entry) (please include me in the tweet @sbroadhurst) and add a link to the comment below.
This is a UK only Giveaway, sorry for international followers of my blog.

Winners will be drawn at 6pm on Sunday 11 December 2011 and the books will be posted out by the publisher.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty

Finding Mr. Flood

Dara Flood always says the most interesting thing about her life happened before she was born. Thirteen days before she came into the world, her father walked up the road and never came back. Now in her twenties, Dara's life has a careful routine. She lives in Dublin with her mother and sister Angel. She has pizza with friends every Wednesday, salsa class every Friday, and sees her boyfriend every Saturday. It's safe and that's the way she likes it. Then Angel gets desperately sick and Dara's ordered life falls apart. Neither she nor her mother is a compatible match for the kidney Angel needs. So Dara sets out to find the father who could be their last hope. But on the path to uncovering the truth about her father, Dara learns that to let life - and love - in, sometimes you just have to let go ...

I am not sure where to start with this review. It was a good book, however it was a long book and I found in places that the story went very slowly, and then in others, especially the end, I found that it was rushed. 

The main characters is Dara Flood, who lives with her mother, Mrs Flood, and her sister, Angel(a) Flood, who has kidney failure and is on the transplant list and always waiting for the phone call from the hospital to say they have an organ. Their father, Mr Flood, returned from work one night, two weeks before Dara was born, and popped down the road to get some cigarettes, but never returned. 

The book is about Angel's need for a new kidney, the phone call arriving and them getting to the hospital to find it wasn't a close enough match, and the subsequent months when Angel becomes withdrawn and 'gives up'. She lets her boyfriend go to enjoy life and not worry about her, and stays in her room, alone. Dara and her mother are distraught and try all they can to encourage Angel to come out of her room and get out and about but they struggle. Dara decides that, because her and her mother are not matches to donate a kidney, that she must find Mr Flood and persuade him to be tested to see if he is a match. 

Dara employs a private investigator, Mr Stanley Flinter, to help her find him. Stanley is, himself, a complicated character. He has a number of brothers, all who have followed their father into the police force, however Stanley was too short and partially deaf in one ear and failed the selection process. His previous girlfriend is now engaged to one of his brothers and already has a daughter with the brother. He has recently been left a dog by a client who died recently, one which is in desperate need of training and calming - Dara works in a dogs home and in return for Stanley's private investigation work, Dara works with the dog. 

The story has many twists and turns in it. It is a long book (over 500 pages) and as I have previously said, it is a good story and one which I enjoyed. I did, however, find some parts of the story were rushed and especially the ending which I thought deserved more time and story time, whereas other parts were very slowly paced. 

The story has many themes, the main ones being the waiting for a transplant and the ways in which it affects not only the person waiting for the transplant but also their family, and also searching for a missing family member. There were also bits of romance - both successful and nonsucessful relationships. There were many times of humour throughout the book - especially when Stanley Flinter was on private investigator business, but also times of sadness due to the main storyline. The story of Mr Flood was also very sad but it was one which he made for himself and ended up very sad and lonely.

I think that this was a book that I would recommend but would warn readers of the storyline first. A family member has kidney problems and only has one kidney working and this is something that could cause kidney failure in future years, and I therefore found it difficult to read some of the story. However, I can also see that it was a well written book which deserves to be read by many.

Thank you to the publishers, Hodder, for sending me the book to review (and the recent book giveaway on my blog).

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Ciara Geraghty Book Giveaway Competition Winner

thank you for all the entries for this competition. The entries are as follows:

1. Reabook review
2. Reabookreview (twitter entry)
3. Lindsay
4. Lindsay (twitter entry)
5. Mama J
6. Mama J (twitter entry)
7. Cat
8. Cat (twitter entry)

using the random generator the winner is CAT

True Random Number Generator  7
Congratulations, Please email me your postal address and I will forward it to the publishers.
Thank you again for all the entrants, I hope to have another giveaway on my blog soon.