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Friday, 27 May 2011

Please Sir by Jack Sheffield

A New Year at Ragley-on-the-Forest School...It's 1981, the time of Adam and the Ants, Rubik's Cube, the Sony Walkman and the Falklands War, as head teacher Jack Sheffield returns to Ragley-on-the-Forest School for another rollercoaster year. Vera, the ever-efficient school secretary, has to grapple with a new-fangled computer - and enjoys a royal occasion - while Ruby the caretaker rediscovers romance with a Butlin's Redcoat. And for Jack, wedding bells are in the air. But the unexpected is just round the corner...
The fifth book in the series by Jack Sheffied about the village of Ragley and its primary school. The fourth book ended on a will they, won't they cliffhanger and I don't think I am giving anything away, as it is mentioned in the synopsis , that there is a wedding in the book!
I am enjoying this series of books, a great look back at school in the 1980's, along with village life. All the favorite characters are back; Vera the school secretary; Ruby the school caretaker and the teachers at the primary school. The book is again full of those gems that come out of the mouth of children and will have you laughing out loud while reading it.
Sheffield not only talks about village life and school life, but also of historical events and how they affect daily life in both the village and school.
This book ends on a cliffhanger and I am looking forward to the next installment to see what happens. I think life in Ragley could be about to change forever.
Thank you to the publishers, Bantam Press for sending me this book to review.

My Henry by Judith Kerr

Through charming verse and glowing illustrations, Judith Kerr takes us on a magical and moving journey that proves love really does conquer everything. A truly special picture book destined to be loved and treasured by children and adults alike for years to come. "It's things we've never tried before That are the greatest fun, Like riding on a dinosaur, Which I had never done." Married couples are used to little trips together. Henry's wife can see no reason why they should stop just because one of them is no longer around. In fact she can't help going a little bit over the top, imagining all sorts of wonderful outings, including dinosaur rides and dolphin drawn water ski sessions. In the end however, even the most magical and exotic daydreams can never quite compare to their past everyday life together. Fom the bestselling author of The Tiger Who Came To Tea.

A great book for a child who has lost a family member or maybe for someone who has lost their life partner. Mr Henry has died, but little does everyone know that Henry's wife meets him every day between 4 and 7 that they meet and have little adventures in her imagination.
It is a beautifully illustrated book, with a simple idea that children will understand and help them in times of sadness. It made me laugh and it made me cry but a book that should be included in a child's library or early years setting.
Thank you to Harper Collins Children's Books for sending me this book to review.
Thank you to

Milly the Meerkat by Oakley Graham

Milly the Meerkat gets up to mischief in this modern retelling of Aesop's famous fable. Children will delight in joining the naughty meerkat as she learns the importance of telling the truth.
This is a modern retelling of the story of The Boy who cried wolf using those animals of the moment - Meerkats! Meerkats appear to be everywhere since that insurance advert last year.
The book is beautifully illustrated with backdrops of the African Savannah on each page. The illustrations are well drawn and the meerkats look so adorable. The story, as i previously stated, is a retelling of the 'boy who cried wolf' but with Milly the Meerkat, bored while on lookout for snakes, on guard of the babies burrow. There is one page with a picture of a snake, so be warned if you do not like snakes, but even that looks cute!
It is a beautiful book that would make a lovely gift for a young child. It would be particularly good if discussing the wrongs about telling lies. A great book to share at story time in early years groups.
Thank you to Top That Publishing for sending me this book to review under their Yummy Mummy Book Reviewers program.

When I Dream Of ABC by Mr Henry Fisher

Enter the dreamy world of ABC in this soothing bedtime book. A humorous exploration of the many strange and extraordinary characters that inhabit a fantastical dreamworld, encouraging children to learn their ABC. From shy dragons and opera singing mermaids, to bossy queens and hot chocolate drinking vampires, learning the alphabet has never been so fascinating.

A beautiful book for young children to introduce them to the ABC. Unlike the traditional alphabet books this one is full of animals and characters that will capture a child's imagination. Each letter is accompanied by a full page illustration and a little verse to introduce the item. The illustrations are simple, featuring child like creations but are detailed enough to discuss with the child.

This is a book which I would recommend as a gift for a young child. I am sure this will quickly become a story time favourite and children will enjoy looking through it on their own too where they will become entranced in the pictures and loose themselves in their own little world of make believe.

Thank you to Top That Publishing for sending me the book to review as part of the Yummy Mummy Book Reviewers program.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook by Jason Heller

In the tradition of our popular "Batman Handbook" and "Indiana Jones Handbook" comes the world's only guide to emulating the most popular pirate in motion picture history: "Captain Jack Sparrow". How popular is Captain Jack? Consider that the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean films" - "The Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003), "Dead Man's Chest" (2006) and "At World's End" (2007) - grossed a combined $1 billion dollars in the United States alone. Now Johnny Depp and his mates are returning for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides", due in theaters May 20, 2011. Illustrated with film stills, line drawings, and helpful diagrams, "The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook" will cover everything a swaggering swashbuckler needs to know, including: How to sail a ship; How to climb rigging; How to decipher a treasure map; How to break a curse; How to survive being marooned; How to battle a sea monster; and much, much more. With skills derived from all three films-and up-to-the-minute data regarding the forthcoming "On Stranger Tides" - this handbook will be a surefire hit with Pirates fans of all ages
The perfect accompaniment for pirates young and old! A great looking handbook which would look right in place in a ship's cabin.
The handbook is split into six chapters: Piracy; Maritime Skills; People Skills; Acquiring Booty; Cheating Death; and Mysteries of the Deep. Each chapter is filled with useful info, including how to become a pirate; types of pirate; pirate garb and gear; how to climb rigging; how to fire a cannon; how to disguise your gender; how to gamble; how to make a treasure map;how to escape from being tied up; how to survive being marooned and how to vanquish Davy Jones. All useful information when you are a pirate.
The book includes photographs from the popular Pirates of the Caribbean film series along with many hand drawn illustrations to accompany the text perfectly. The text is full of interesting facts, those little facts which will amaze friends and family everywhere. There is loads of information crammed into each section which will keep readers occupied for hours on end. However, I would of loved a bit more on the history of pirates on the high seas, an area which seems to have been missed.
I would recommend this to fans of the film series of all ages but also to older children interested in Pirates in general. A great addition to a book case for swash buckling fans of all ages.
Thank you to Mathew Archer from PGUK for sending me this book to review.

Olivia's First Term by Lyn Gardner

Olivia is sad and lonely and angry - angry that she's been dumped with her sister eel at her grandmother's school, and angrier still that that school turns out to be a stage school where there's no encouragement for her to do what she loves best: practice her circus skills. But in the course of a turbulent first term, Olivia finds out much more than she bargained for about the theatre, about friendship, about enemies, about her family and about herself.
This is the first book in a new series, written by Lyn Gardner, who is a theatre critic for The Guardian newspaper.
Olivia and her sister Eel Marvell travel with their father to London and to The Swan Academy of Theatre and Dance, which is owned by their grandmother, Alicia Swan, who they have not seen since their mother died many years previous. As daughters of a circus high wire artist, they both have some performance flair but are not the usual students who enrol at the Academy.
The story is a modern day tale of a stage school but one with traditional values, where children must excel in both song, acting or dance alongside the traditional subjects of maths, English etc. There are many characters within the book, which children will be able to relate to; the popular girl, who has everything she wants, but finds money or blackmail can't buy friendship; the quiet and studious children who work to the best of their ability who the popular children prey upon; along with other individuals who all add to the school in their own way.
Girls will love this book, it is a great story, with many messages within the story about friendship. It is a great read, one which children will love to read themselves or share with someone at story time. There are further books in the series planned and I am sure this series could become as popular as Enid Blytons Malory towers and st Clare's series! I for one am looking forward to the next in the series to be released.
The cover is stunning - it will stand out on any shop/library shelf and I am sure girls everywhere will be reaching for it soon.
Thank you to Michael at The School Run Forum for sending me this book to review.

Village Teacher by Jack Sheffield

It's 1980: recession and unemployment have hit Britain, a royal wedding is on the way, and the whole country is wondering Who Shot JR? As Jack returns for his fourth year at Ragley-on-the Forest School, there's a definite chill in the air. Village schools are being closed down all over the place - will his be one of them? As school life continues - Vera, the school secretary, has to grapple with a new-fangled electric typewriter, Ruby celebrates ten years as the school cleaner, and the village panto throws up some unusual problems - Jack wonders what the future holds...'Wry observation and heartwarming humour in equal measure' - Alan Titchmarsh.
This is a lovely series about a headteacher, Jack Sheffield, of a village primary school and the daily life of the school. I have read the previous three books in this series and each time a new book is released I look forward to seeing what is in store for the school this year.
The book is based around the headteacher, however within each chapter are some delightful snippets from the children - some of those funny things that come out of a child's mouth, which immediately start me giggling! There is a warmth about the book, village life where everyone knows each other and gossip is round every corner.
Sheffield has definitely done his research, with many true historical events included in the book - this book includes the engagement of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, along with many other events which had an effect on the characters - the metric systems being introduced and the school secretary, Vera, having to adapt to using an electric typewriter.
The book does end on a cliff hanger - the fate of the primary school, will it be closed? and also Jack and Beth's relationship, will it survive?
I loved this book and have already started on book 5, which carries on from the end of this book and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.
I would recommend that these books are read in order as the reader gets to know the characters but if you like books by Gervase Phinn I recommend these books to you.

To my best friends by Sam Baker

Nicci Morrison was always the first of her friends to do everything! But she wasn't meant to be the first to die. Saying goodbye is never easy, but at least Nicci has one last chance to make a difference before she goes. She's decided to leave letters giving her most treasured possessions to her closest friends. To her single friend Mona she bequeaths her husband David, little knowing her best friend found The One a long time ago!To childless Jo, Nicci leaves the care of her three-year-old twin daughters. Jo however is finding it hard enough to cope with the fortnightly arrival of her stepsons. To Lizzie she leaves her garden. But while Lizzie is loyally tending Nicci's plants, the parts of her own life that are in desperate need of attention are falling by the wayside. But Nicci didn't always know best, and she couldn't have imagined the changes and challenges her letters set in motion for the loved ones she's left behind.
When Nicci Morrison died, she left her three best friends each a letter within which she left her most important things: her young twin girls; her husband; and her garden. Each friend have their own lives, own problems and careers to develop. The book tells of each friend, along with Nicci's husband coming to terms with Nicci's death along with how they react and deal with Nicci's very personal and precious requests to each of them. The story is also interspersed with diary entries led by the discovery of an outfit, pair of shoes or accessory from Nicci's past found while the friends are sorting Nicci's vast wardrobe.

I really enjoyed this book, Sam Baker has a lovely writing style which I found very easy to loose myself in. There are many times of happiness, along with sadness throughout this book. Nicci's lose is a big one to everyone, Nicci's friends and husband each deal with it in their own way. One thing which brings the friends together is the difficult job of sorting through her immense wardrobe which is stored chronologically - as the friends start the daunting job of what to keep and what to donate or throw away, there are special items which bring back memories and we learn about Nicci's life and that of her friends. Whilst reading this book I loved the look back at styles through the past few decades - I was younger than the friends but remembered most of the fashions, even though I didn't wear them.
I really enjoyed this book, Baker's style of writing is easy to read, a book that can be picked up and a few chapters read when you have a few spare minutes. It is one of those books that can make you smile in one chapter but shed a few tears later on.
I would recommend this to fans of chick lit everywhere and is a great book to put in hand luggage, your beach bag or handbag!
Thank you to the publishers for sending me this book to review.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell

1903, Boston. Dr Ravell is a young obstetrician whose reputation for helping couples conceive has made him a rising star. He is flattered when a family of illustrious physicians turns to him to treat one of its own members. Erika von Kessler is a beautiful and ambitious opera singer who has struggled for years to become pregnant. As the young doctor's attraction to her increases, and his treatments prove ineffectual, Erika's despair worsens. And when Dr Ravell takes a great risk that may imperil his promising career, a secret he can share with no one, it is a decision that will change their dreams and destinies. What ensues is an unforgettable love story that sweeps across snowy Boston, a lush island of the Caribbean, to the graceful piazzas and opera stages of Italy.

This is a beautifully written book written about a couple desperate for a baby, who have visited many professionals who have no answers. When Dr Ravell finds out the delicate, personal reasons for their problems, he is left in a dilema and makes a decision which will stay with him for the rest of his life.

I enjoyed this book, it was historic fiction, set in Boston, Trinidad and Italy in the early 1900s. The author has taken inspiration for the story from a distant relative and I found it interesting to see how some of the modern techniques of today were being developed at the turn of the previous century. The comparison of life in Boston and Trinidad were evident to see and it was interesting to see how the characters adapted to life when their personal journeys took them there. When Erika made the difficult decision to move to Italy, leaving both her husband and son it was another change in lifestyle but one which Erika excelled at - I enjoyed reading about Erika's life here and her struggle to become a sucessful opera singer.

I enjoyed the book and liked the snippets of operatic arias that peppered the book - opera is something i have never been a fan of but to see the words on a page, translated from Italian to English made me realise that it is possible to tell a story, an emotional one, through song. I would not usually pick up a book such as this one off a shelf but I loved this book straight from the first page, I was drawn into their lives. A well written story, with characters I could see - the business man who wants a child and will pay for doctors, but not imagine the problem could be with him; the wife who wants a child but is tiring of seeing many doctors, has other pleasures in life which she wishes to explore and resides herself to never having that much wanted child and a young doctor, who wants to develop his career, but has a moral dilema to overcome.

The other thing that drew me to this book was the cover. I have seen the hardcover which I think was released in America but have to say, I much prefer this cover. It depicts the story perfectly and captures the four main parts of the story - Italy, Trinidad, the opera singer and the doctor.

I would recommend this book to someone who wants something different to read - but also to fans of historical fiction. It is a good read.

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

One Dog and his Boy by Eva Ibbotson

All Hal had ever wanted was a dog But a dog would damage the expensive carpets in Hal's glamorous home, and his rich, neglectful parents refuse to consider one. Then they discover Easy Pets, a convenient dog-rental agency. Terrier Fleck arrives on Hal's birthday, but when Hal discovers that his dog must be returned, he runs away - along with a group of pedigree breeds joyfully escaping from Easy Pets. An irresistible adventure from a truly great and much-loved children's author that every dog-loving child will adore.

This is the last book written by Eva Ibbotson before her death last year and I am embarressed to say I had never heard of this author before being sent this book to review, however, she is an author I will be reading more off now. An author who writes with great passion and warmth about animals.

Hal was a boy with rich and snobbish parents, who was given everything on the market for his birthday, with his mother sending out to Hamleys for all the latests gizmos and gadgets, but Hal never got what he really wanted for his birthday - a dog. A dog which, his mother believed, would dirty her pristine show house! However, when his father returned late from his latest business trip on Hal's birthday, forgetting to pick up a present from duty free, he promised Hal a dog, one from Easy Pets, a dog hire company. Hal's father thought it would be a passing fad, and Hal would be glad to return it after the end of the 'hire'. However, as soon as Hal set his eyes on Fleck, a mongrel who should never of been at Easy Pets, Hal was in love, as was Fleck. After a fun filled few days, Hals mother tricked Hal into visiting the dentist with the au pair while she returned Fleck to Easy Pets and Hal was inconsolable on his return. The following story tells of the bond between Fleck and Hal, but also of the dogs in Room A at Easy Pets.

It was a beautiful story, a story which could be shared at bed time between parent and child. Ibbotson writes at a level suitable for children of all ages to understand and tells of the true and everlasting bond between a dog and its owner, each looking out for the other. It also tells of how children can be overloaded with expensive toys and gadgets and not appreciate them - money can not buy a child's love! However, the love of a pet can be just as rewarding.
There is also the story of Hal's determination to keep Fleck, a journey across country to his grandparents house, who are not rich, but understand the love of an animal. The journey was a great adventure and I loved to read about it and loved the ending to the book.

Another big part of this book for me are the pencil sketch drawings by Sharon Rentta. They are full of life and each sketch shows the dog's unique character. In the copy I was sent was extra sketches at the back of the book where Rentta had submitted extra sketches and the publishers decided to include all of them!

I would recommend this as a great gift idea for children aged 7+, as a book to share at bedtime and for older children to read themselves.

I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Yorkshire in Watercolour by Les Packham

Product Description
Yorkshire is a fascinating and diverse county and its topography provides many inspiring vistas for the landscape artist. This book portrays the Yorkshire landscape through the eyes of one of the county's most versatile and best known watercolourists. From the Pennines to the coast, over the North Yorkshire Moors and through the Wolds to the industrial south of the region, this book encompasses everything to please lovers of this remarkable county. The book accompanies the exhibition of the same name.
The book includes large towns and cities such as Leeds, York, Huddersfield, Sheffield, coastal towns and villages such as Bridlington, Staithes and Whitby, and also includes a selection of smaller places, such as Haworth, home of the Brontёs.
About the Author
Les Packham is a proud Yorkshireman with huge enthusiasm for anything to do with his native county. He is a self taught painter inspired by the great early English and Victorian watercolourists. For Les, watercolour is the ultimate medium. He has become well known through his contribution to various Yorkshire publications and also for his best selling calendar 'Yorkshire in Watercolour'. He has exhibited in London at the House of Commons, The Mall Galleries, The University Womens' Club and the former Royal Naval Dockyards at Chatham. Nearer to home he has, among other venues, had one man exhibitions at Skipton Castle, Mount Grace Priory, Nunnington Hall and Cannon Hall as well as exhibiting at the Ferens Gallery Hull and the Mercer Gallery Harrogate. For the past few years he and his wife Judith have been instrumental in organising the Art Show at the Great Yorkshire Show. His clients include The National Trust and English Heritage. Les lives in Wakefield with his wife and rescued Staffordshire Bull Terrier Brontё. He was awarded the MBE in the Millennium Honours List for his services to road safety.

I have never been to Yorkshire, however I have watched many programmes set in Yorkshire and always admire the scenery and landscape from afar. When opening this book I was again admiring the landscape and wishing myself there. Each turn of the page showed another print of Les Packham's stunning watercolour work, along with a brief summary by Packham of the subject and any personal anecdotes or facts about the setting.

This would be a beautiful book to give as a gift to lovers of Yorkshire landscape, art lovers or fans of Les Packham and the chance to own all of his work in one handy book. They are beautiful and I would love to visit the settings for all of these paintings.

Thank you to Jeremy Mills Publishers for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Jack Splat, Superfly Pest by Lou Kuenzler

This is a hilarious new series, told from the fly-on-the-wall perspective of our death-defying hero Jack Splat as he goes about his daily business - landing on tasty bits of food and spreading germs. But there is danger everywhere for a small fly, and Jack must dodge dastardly attempts to bring his life to a swift end! Jack is excited by the sight of a large, deliciously sweet birthday cake, and gatecrashes a party to get at it - but he needs to watch out for the scheming spider that lurks in the living room...

This book will appeal to children everywhere who love talk about bodily functions,

It starts with a story about a maggot being born and developing into a fly - it is in a style similar to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Jack is a young fly who decides to go on his own adventure, alone, and tells his mum he will become a famous fly, like Neil Flewstrong or Christopher Columbuzz. However his first problem is when he flies into a window before smelling a chocolate birthday cake behind the window which he wants to taste. The story continues with a family of ants also wanting the same treat. They all try different approaches before they all encounter a child's birthday party and come to the same sorry end!

Lou Kuenzler has achieved the perfect balance while writing this story. It has the lifecycle of a fly along with facts about how flies live, their habits around food and how they can cause infection and disease. There are also interesting facts about flies. The book has lots of cartoony drawings to accompany the story and brings the story alive.

Kids of all ages will love this book - I know my son, who is 7, enjoys anything to do with bodily functions, snot, slime and pure mess, and while I was thinking Yuck, he was giggling away and wanting to know what happened next!

I recommend this book as a great gift for anyone aged 7+.

Thank you to Stripes Publishing for sending me this book to review.

Rosemary Shrager's Absolutely Foolproof Classic Home Cooking

With a few perfect recipes in your repertoire, you can master any dish and create many more. Rosemary Shrager's Absolutely Foolproof Classic Home Cooking makes it easy to cook over 200 classic tried-and-tested home recipes perfectly every time. With crystal clear instructions for over 20 essential dishes and techniques in fantastic photographic detail, and dozens of variations and ideas for more recipes, plus hints, tips and ideas, and plenty of explanation to take the mystery out of cooking, this book is the next best thing to being side-by-side with Rosemary at her famous cookery school and your dishes will be faultless every time. From soups to souffles, risottos to roasts, custards to cakes, Rosemary will guide you effortlessly every step of the way, and in no time you'll have the confidence to create perfect meals for every occasion.

This recipe book is straight forward, plain speaking and full of good home cooking recipe ideas. The book begins with an introduction written by Rosemary herself, in which she describes her love of food and how she never went to catering college but learnt on the job. She talks about the importance of practicing dishes and her aim to minimise the mistakes the reader may make.

There are nineteen sections to the book: salads and dressing; stocks and soups; white sauces; emulsion sauces; eggs; pancakes and batters; souffles; terrines and pates; rice; pasta; grilling and frying; roasts; casseroles and stews; vegetables; pastry; custards; meringues; cakes and quick breads and breads. Each section begins with at least one recipe which is described very detailled in both words and photographs of every stage of the technique. There are hints and ideas for these recipes along with possible variations. There follows many other recipes within each category.

Each section has many, but not all, photographs to accompany the recipes within it. Each recipe begins with a brief summary of the finished dish and has an appropriate number of portions and full ingredient list along with the recipe broken down into easy steps.

While flicking through the recipes within the book, I could hear Rosemary's voice reading out the summary of the finished dish as they are written how she would explain them on her many television experiences, although her hearty laugh is not recreated, unfortunately.

This recipe book would be suited to both novice cooks or people who enjoy cooking regularly as there are recipes to fit all tastes and cooking expertise. It would make a great gift for someone leaving home for the first time and needing a good book to get them started or for someone who enjoys trying new recipes. A welcome addition to any kitchen recipe shelf.

Thank you to The Octopus Publishing Group for sending me the book to review.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Sweetest Thing by Cathy Woodman

?If only everything in life was as simple as baking a cake...Jennie Copeland thought she knew the recipe for a happy life: marriage to her university sweetheart, a nice house in the suburbs and three beautiful children. But when her husband leaves her, she is forced to find a different recipe. And she thinks she's found just what she needs: a ramshackle house on the outskirts of the beautiful Talyton St George, a new cake-baking business, a dog, a horse, chickens...But life in the country is not quite as idyllic as she'd hoped, and Jennie can't help wondering whether neighbouring farmer Guy Barnes was right when he told her she wouldn't last the year. Or perhaps the problem is that she's missing one vital ingredient to make her new life a success. Could Guy be the person to provide it

I have read, and loved, both of Cathy Woodman's previous books. 'Trust Me, I'm a Vet' and 'Must be Love' were both set in the fictional village of Talyton St George and were centred around a vet's surgery and the vets who owned it. However, in The Sweetest Thing Woodman has moved away from the Vetinary practice, although there is mention of Maz and the surgery, and introduces new characters to the village.

Jennie Copeland and her son and daughters move to the village following the breakdown of her marriage, moving from the city to a country village. They move into Uphill House and begin to get involved with country life. When the previous owner of the house appears, Jennie begins to consider returning to dating, however her children do not agree, even though their dad is living with his new lover and already expecting a new baby soon.

The book covers many themes; the upheaval of a family due to separation of the parents; the parent and the children's struggle to settle in a new home/area of the country, setting up of a new business and how a new relationship for a parent can affect the whole family; along with a teenagers difficulty in resettling and starting a new life with new friends, while trying to keep in contact with old friends too.

I really enjoyed this book, although do not read it when you are hungry as the cakes sound delicious, as does each chapter title!!

I love Woodman's style of writing, it is an easy read, one which you can curl up with and get lost in or one which you can pick up and read a few chapters off as and when. The characters are believable, people I could be friends with and a village I would love to be a part of.

I would recommend this book to everyone, as I have previously said it is a gread read and although it is part of a series by Woodman, it is a standalone book and once you have read it I am sure you will be reaching for Woodman's previous two books. I hope that there is another book about Talyton St George due soon.

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

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Scarlet Kimono by Christina Courtenay

Abducted by a warlord in 17th-century Japan - what happens when fear turns to love? England, 1611, and young Hannah Marston envies her brother's adventurous life. But when she stows away on a merchant ship, her powers of endurance are stretched to their limit. Then they reach Japan and all her suffering seems worthwhile - until she is abducted by Taro Kumashiro's warriors. In the far north of the country, warlord Kumashiro is intrigued to learn more about the girl who he has been warned about by a seer. There's a clash of cultures and wills, but they're also fighting an instant attraction to each other. With her brother desperate to find her and the jealous Lady Reiko equally desperate to kill her, Hannah faces the greatest adventure of her life. And Kumashiro has to choose between love and compromising his honour.

This is Christina Courtenay's second book, the first being Trade Winds, previously reviewed on this blog.

This book is about Hannah Marsten, a young girl, living in Plymouth, with her family. Finding herself betrothed to be married to a man she hates, she takes the oppurtunity to stow away on a ship owned by her father, which will soon be setting sail to Japan. However, she stows away on the wrong ship and ends up becoming part of the crew where she falls for a fellow crewman.

Arriving in Japan, she is kidnapped by a warlord, however, their relationship soon takes a turn for romance - how will this relationship develop.

As with Trade Winds, I love Christina's style of writing. The book covers times gone by, along with the Chinese culture and I found myself learning about 17th century china while enjoying the book. Christina most of done a lot of research before writing this book, and her passion for the culture and customs really shines through in this book.

There is romance, aswell as drama on every page - the reader does not have time to draw breath while reading this book.

I really enjoy Christina Countenay's books and I look forward to seeing what she writes about next.

I recommend this to readers who enjoy historical fiction and romance.

Thank you to ChocLit Publishers for sending me this book to review.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson

When Eve Carpenter lands with a splash in the Thames, it's not the London or England she's used to. No one has a telephone or knows what a computer is. England's a third world country and Princess Di is still alive. But worst of all, everyone thinks Eve's a spy. Including Major Harker who has his own problems. His sworn enemy is looking for a promotion. The general wants him to undertake some ridiculous mission to capture a computer, which Harker vaguely envisions running wild somewhere in Yorkshire. Turns out the best person to help him is Eve. She claims to be a popstar. Harker doesn't know what a popstar is, although he suspects it's a fancy foreign word for 'spy'. Eve knows all about computers, and electricity. Eve is dangerous. There's every possibility she's mad. And Harker is falling in love with her.

This is a paranormal romance, a genre I have never tried before.
The Untied Kingdom starts with Eve, a former pop queen who is involved in a paragliding accident, while filming a television programme and ended up crashing into the Thames. However after the accident, Eve found herself in an alternative England, where a Civil War was in progress. An England where people were poor, there was food rationing, a third world country. Eve was rescued from The Thames by Harker, an army major, fighting in the Civil War.

As I orginially said, this was my first paranormal romance read and I am unsure that this is a genre I will actively be choosing to read. However, putting that aside, I thought the book was well written, Kate Johnson had a great writing style, which kept you wanting to read more. I enjoyed reading how England could be in another world, a country affected by a Civil War and with a lack of technology. I thought Johnson had really thought about this alternative England and her vision of how life would be was very realistic and scary to think of how life would be if real. There were great battle scenes throughout the book. I thought that Johnson had a great and orginal storyline.

I would recommend this book to other readers, those who enjoy a good romance but also have a liking for paranormal storylines.

Thank you to Choclit Publishers for sending me this book to review.