Challenge Participant


Friday, 24 June 2011

Fallen by Karin Slaughter

On an ordinary spring day, Special Agent Faith Mitchell of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation returns home to a nightmare. Expecting to find her mother minding Faith's new baby daughter Emma, she is horrified to discover Emma locked in the shed, her mother's safe open, her gun missing and a trail of blood to the front door. Without waiting for back-up, Faith enters the house to a scene of carnage. It has been torn apart and a man lies dead in a pool of blood. She stumbles across two more intruders, and within minutes they too are shot dead. And when the Atlanta police force turns up, Faith has some difficult questions to answer. But she has some desperate questions of her own. What were the killers searching for? Ex-Atlanta police chief Evelyn Mitchell was once under investigation by Faith's partner Will Trent. Is her mother directly involved this time, and where is she now? With Faith suspended from duty, Will, together with the help of Dr Sara Linton, must piece together the fragments of a brutal and complicated case - and catch a deeply troubled and vicious murderer with only one thing on his mind. To keep on killing until the truth is finally revealed...

Karin Slaughter is one of those authors that I look forward to reading their latest novel as soon as it is releasaed - I don't wait for it to go to paperback, I have to have the hardback. And this has defintely been work the wait!

Faith Mitchell returns home from a course which has over run to find a trail of blood, her baby daughter locked in the shed and her mother missing. What follows is a lot of family history being dragged up, past behaviour explained and secrets being revealled.

This is the third book in the Georgia series (following Genesis and Unbroken) and combines the two sets of characters from Slaughter's books: Sara Linton and Will Trent.

As always with Slaughter's novels, there is a strong crime story which is intermingled with the personal lives of the main characters. This book is no different: Faith Mitchell is Will Trent's police partner and she has to be treated as a suspect. Will Trent is married, but in an unhappy marriage, Sara Linton is a widow and has feelings, which she won't admit, for Will Trent.

The book starts with a crime which has many repercussions to all involved. Life will never be the same for Faith as secrets are uncovered and life will change forever. The story is hard hitting and there are twists and turns throughout the whole book. I never guessed the final twist - the secret to be revealled - and I think that this is a big part of karin's books, the great storylines she creates.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of crime and thrillers. Although this book is the third in the Georgia Series and also features Sara Linton, who is the main character in many books, it is not necessary to read the others first, although fans will realise there are connections to previous books within Fallen.

I would like to thank the publishers for sending me this book to review.

Ouch! by David Roberts written by Alan MaDonald (Dirty Bertie)

Dirty Bertie - the boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits - is back for another helping in A&E after an accident with a door, forgets his swimming trunks on a visit to Splash City, and proves that Know-All Nick doesn't actually know everything at the Inter-schools Quiz Competition.

The fourteenth book in the very popular Dirty Bertie series. As usual there are three stories within the book and when reading them I could imagine my son doing each one! Having an accident with a hammer and ending up in A&E, 'borrowing' a pair of swimming shorts and reading the most weirdest, revolting factual book and remembering the strangest facts from it.

These books are perfect for boys who are beginning to gain confidence in their reading. Full of humour and, at times, revolting behaviour, they will be loved by boys of all ages and I would recommend them to all. My son has enjoyed reading them aloud and to himself and I am sure they will be loved if shared at bedtime.

The books are part of a series and there is plenty to keep fans of Dirty Bertie reading for ages. The illustrations are excellent accompaniments for the stories and are interspersed throughout the book. The text is perfect for readers aged 7+ but is suitable for younger children who will love to listen to the stories.

I would recommend this as a perfect gift for boys of all ages.

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

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Sewing Basics by Sandra Bardwell

Few people learn to sew from their mothers anymore but many would love to master this rewarding and enjoyable skill. "Sewing Basics" is the ultimate bible for sewing at home, making sewing accessible for all. Covering fabrics, sewing machines, hand sewing, fitting, finishing, trouble-shooting and more, it will soon have you approaching a needle and thread with confidence. Both for beginners learning how to hem and for more experienced sewers who need help dealing with difficult fabrics, "Sewing Basics" is an invaluable reference to keep on the bookshelf for many years to come. Key points include: information on choosing and using fabric and equipment for both hand and machine sewing; detailed instructions on dozens of techniques; hints on achieving a professional finish to garments; trouble-shooting tips; more than 300 photos, including step-by-steps; and, a friendly and approachable tone to appeal to both novices and more experienced sewers

This book is a must for anyone who wants to try either hand or machine sewing for the first time, or as a useful reference book to be included in a crafters library for all those little things you are unsure of but want to try!

I was immediately drawn to this book when I saw it. I love cross stitching, I can reattach buttons, mend small tears in clothes and can stitch a straight line with a sewing machine but that is about it. I would love to be able to make a cushion cover from scratch or even finish that longline waistcoat that I started in my GCSE textiles class from a paper pattern but never quite finished it. With this book I am sure that I could give it a good go.

The book starts right at the beginning: getting organised- deciding on a workspace/area, organising it and keeping it tidy, how to store and organise your 'stash' and projects. It details all the tools of the trades - detailling needles, measuring tools and making equipment and explaining the benefits of each type. This tools of the trade section is very informative and explains the use of each item and the need for variations.
The book moves on to sewing machines - how to choose a machine and then the accessories needed for different projects: the size of needle used and the different feet avaliable and their uses. There is also a list of troubleshooting problems which explains the cause and also the solution in easy steps. Fabrics and interfacing are explained in the next section - how to care for them, how to establish the straight grain, any flaws in different fabrics and when and how to use interfacing.

The book then looks at patterns - how to understand them, what they contain, how to alter a commercial pattern, how to make a pattern from an existing garment and also measurement charts. The next section looks at cutting out, tacking and basting - how to prepare the paper pattern pieces, pinning or marking out, cutting the fabric, taching, basting and thread marking and hand stitching for tacking and basting.

There is a section on basic hand and machine stitches with photographs showing each stitch before looking at how to stitch seams (straight, curved, reinforced, angled, bias, stretched and enclosed), how to creat shape and fitting projects, how to do linings, facings and hems. The book then looks at design details - how to add pockets; collars. sleevescuffs, waistbands and waistfacings, how to add fastenings (zippers, buttons and buttonholes, press studs, hooks and eyes), how to add trims, beading, applique and smocking.

One of the final sections is on embroidery - materials needed and basic stitches. The final section is on alterations - how to take in or let out, lengthening and shortening and how to patch, replace seams, zippers etc and how to refresh worn items.

The book is full of help, tips and advice and each section is jam packed with clear photographs which accompany the easy to follow text. It is suitable for complete beginners but would also be a great book for the more accomplished seamstresses as a quick check for techniques. It covers all areas of sewing and could be used to make a complete item of clothing - taking you from opening the pattern pack to the finished item.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to try sewing for themselves - the book will soon pay for itself when you consider how much is charged to add a new zip or shorten trousers on the high street.

I received this book from the Amazon Vine program.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Laura's Handmade Life by Amanda Addison

Laura Lovegrove is leaving behind her seamless life in London. Architect husband Adi has been relocated to rural Norfolk, a far cry from ultra-urban Ealing. Though Laura knew village life would be different, she didn't foresee a pokey cottage, nosey neighbours, errant poodles, and even an ex turning up. Chris had been her big love at art college and seeing him again is utterly confusing. Is she really so different from the impulsive student who once trawled charity shops for vintage treasures? When a fire all but destroys Laura's collection of vintage clothes, she's heartbroken. And seriously lacking in outfits. But, salvaging what she can, Laura makes do and mends - sewing purses, bags, even dog leads (which should solve the poodle problem). Soon, she's inundated with orders. But Adi is becoming more and more distant; it's like there's something he's not telling her. Can Laura make a stitch in time and pull her family back together again?

This book was one of the many that I have been looking forward to this year and it has not disappointed. A great read but also informative with regard to embroidery/stitching techniques.

Laura Lovegrove has moved, along with her family, from London to a small village. Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of city life, Laura initially finds life difficult but soon begins to embrace the slower life and work on her crafts, alongside her part time job at a high school. Following an accidental fire at the family home which damages many of Laura's vintage clothes, she joins the village sewing club and begins to create a range of products for sale.

The story may be categorised as chick lit; with laura finding her life changing direction, problems at home etc however the story is more than just that. Laura completely changes her way of life and takes what life throws at her in two hands. I really enjoyed reading the book and there were times of joy and other times when I wanted to shout at Laura or her family in times of trouble. THere were also humerous times, especially the naming of the poodle, Prada, a little out of place in a country village

This book is right up my street. I am a great fan of cross stitch and other 'handicrafts'. The chapters each begin with a description of a stitch which I found very informative, however I would of prefered it if the picture was that of the stitch rather than line drawings of stitching paraphenalia. The story is well written and I enjoyed reading it. The village life was one which I would love to be a part of and sounds like a great place to live. The whole idea of using vintage clothes or clothes which have specific memories are a great idea and one which I would love to try, however I think I would have worries about ruining them with my attempts at sewing.

I did enjoy the book, however I found that the story occasionally wandered off line a little, before pulling back to the main story again. The story is a great one of where things are against you, just follow your heart and dig deep! The story is one which reflects the modern day, with costs going up and everyone trying to make do or develop ways of making a bit of money from existing resources.

The book also contains two patterns from Amanda Addison; Laura's Spring Chicks and Laura's Norfolk Lavendar Bags, both of which are contained in the story. I will definitely be trying out the chicks.

I think this book would be prefered by readers who have a crafty background, it is not one of great chick lit, with romance and daily life, but one where someone uses their craft to provide a better oppurtunity in life.

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

Prepped: gorgeous food without the slog - a multitasking masterpiece for time-short foodiesy Vanessa Kimbell

Spontaneous parties, unstructured suppers, impromptu invitations, unexpected guests at any time of the day - welcome to Prepped!, a new, time-saving, inspirational and delicious way of cooking. Vanessa Kimbell takes a selection of fabulous flavours and creates a basic 'wardrobe' of go-anywhere dishes. By linking your recipes you can produce delicious food in less time, and by layering a selection of signature flavours you can transform your everyday cooking into something special. Prepped! Stunning food that makes an enviable statement about your lifestyle.

A great idea for a book serious cooks will love to have in their kitchen. As described in the introduction 'each chapter focuses on a specific flavour, featuring straightforward recipes that use simple ingredients - but with a difference. On each page you'll find sophisticated linking and layering techniques that let you alter the glavours and moods of your dishes at the drop of a hat.'

There are eleven chapters, which each focus on a separate ingredient: elderflower; rhubarb; lavender; lemon; vanilla; tomato; plum; caraway; chocolate; cardamon; and orange and clove. Ingredients which can be found in most kitchen store cupboards.

The idea and layout of this book is excellent - each chapter begins with an introduction to the ingredient and the rest of the chapter is full to the brim with recipes that include that ingredient. The recipes are also cross referenced to other recipes within the book that use that recipe or could be used if the recipe is adapted slightly, making following the recipes/book easier, no need to continually search through the book or index. For example, the rhubarb jam is cross referenced to the rhubarb and vanilla cupcakes, rhubarb pavlova, rhubarb pie, tipover trifle and victoria sponge cake.

The recipes are all began with a brief introduction to the recipe - giving hints and tips for serving instructions, ideas for accompanienments or tips for easy cooking. There are also number of servings; prep time; cooking time and on some recipes if it is suitable for freezing. The recipes are written in simple english and detailled instructions. There are countless photographs included within this book , all to a very high quality and show the food extremely well

The recipes are for many levels of cook - some recipes are perfect for a family meal, meal for children whereas others would be great for dinner parties. There are recipes for starters, main courses, accompaniements, desserts and a few drinks included too.

A great book to give as a gift or to add to a cooks library.

Thank you to Michael from The School Run Forum for sending me the book to review.

Lulu and Bob by Lerryn Korda

Lulu lives in a lovely house with her mummy, her daddy and Percy the cat. Her life is full of Terribly Important rules and Lulu knows that she must try and be on her Very Best Behaviour at all times. Then one day a very unusual person called Bob appears...filling Lulu's world with adventure, excitement, and a lot of mischief.

A great book for children everywhere who like to have fun, play games but don't like tidying up afterwards! Is it really them that make all the mess, or is there someone else who does that??

The book is very well presented, each page has limited text, in a clear bold print with beautiful pictures. The pictures have a range of styles for different components of the big picture - some appear to be computer generated, while others have a hand drawn style, others are only outlined. Together they have a great effect. The pictures will capture a young child's imagination.

The story is well written and will be loved by children of all ages. A lovely gift to give and a lovely story to share at story or bedtime.

Thank you to Scholastic for sending me the book to review.

Weber's Foolproof Favourites (70 simple and delicious bbq recipes)

Weber's Foolproof Favourites is an invaluable collection of beloved barbecue recipes. From Spinach Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce to Chicken Under Bricks, there's something for everyone. With chapters covering starters, red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, vegetables and sides and even dessert, this book is sure to become a grill time favourite.

A brightly coloured book filled with 70 delicious sounding, tempting recipes to try on a barbecue.

The book begins with a section entitled foolproof FAQs for anyone who wants to try out these recipes in the traditional way. There is also a great introduction about how the Weber company in USA developed the traditional barbecue.

The 70 recipes are split into seven sections within the book: starters; red meat; pork; poultry; seafood; vegetables and sides; and desserts. Each recipe is accompanied by a (usually) full page, high colour photograph which certainly makes your mouth water!

Each recipe has a comprehensive ingredient list, along with an special equipment you may need for the recipe. There are also four circles at the start of each recipe which clearly identifies: preparation time; cooking time on the bbq; servings per recipe; and skill required.

The recipes are concisely, but clearly written in well thought out, easy steps and look very easy to follow. The photographs are of a very high quality and the food looks mouthwateringly delicious. Many of the recipes look like they are adaptable to be cooked in a kitchen using a cooker too.

My one thought after reading the recipes is that recipes call for 'preparing the grill for grilling over a low/medium/high heat and although temperatures are given, no information or guidance is given to how to regulate this heat during cooking time included in the book- I will admit, however I am a bbq novice and never used a bbq to cook a meal, more competent bbqers may find this easy.

My only negative thoughts about this book are that there are not many suggestions for vegetarian meals - the vegetable dishes are accompanienments to the other recipes rather than main meals. Also when looking through recipe books I enjoy reading through the one or two sentence descriptions of the dish, this book does not contain these and I was unsure of some of the dishes from their titles.

For the serious BBQer I would recommend this as an ideal gift but for novices, a little bit more guidance may be required.

Thank you to Octopus Publishing for sending me this book to review

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Summer Season by Julia Williams

Passions flare, secrets unravel and love blossoms in the heart of the summer season. As summertime flourishes, it's time for new beginnings! Heartsease House is in desperate need of renovation. Its owner, widower Joel, is struggling to come to terms with life as a single dad. His plans to refurbish the house and garden suddenly seem like one burden too many. Mum to twin girls, Lauren's life is a constant juggling act. When her ex Troy turns up she's determined to keep her distance while he gets to know his daughters. But it's a lot harder than she imagined ! Then erstwhile guerrilla gardener Kezzie bursts into their lives with her infectious enthusiasm to restore the gardens of Heartsease. But who is Kezzie? And what is she running away from? As the warm days of summer draw closer, Heartsease House and its beautiful love-knot garden are transformed. But will Joel, Kezzie and Lauren be able to restore their own hearts? Kick off your sandals, enjoy a glass of rose and escape into a gorgeous novel this summer with Julia Williams.

This is a book with two definite stories, set in the same place but over 100 years apart. Heartease House is where Joel lives with his young son, Sam. It is the family home and has been passed through the generations. There is a large garden with the property which Edward

Handford designed for his wife, Lillian. It is them who the second story is about, the story of the knot garden. A couple who have had much happiness in their lives but also a huge amount of sadness.

In the modern day, Joel is trying to bring up his young son alone, following the sudden death of his wife, Clare, helped by his wife's friend, Lauren, who has twin daughters, Izzie and Immie. Joel is finding life as a single parent a struggle, having no time or enthusiasm to renovate the house and its garden, as was the plan when Clare was alive. Kezzie moves into the village following the breakup of her relationship with Richard, into her aunts house and one night decides to embark in some 'Guerrilla Gardening' as she has done in London, when she stumbles upon the hidden gardens at Heartsease House.

The story of Edward and Lillian is set over 100 years ago, where Edward sets upon designing the garden of Heartsease House for his bride, Lillian. In future years, following the loss of two babies, these too are remembered in the garden. Edward and Lillian carry on to have three healthy children, one which they later loose in war. Their story is one of sadness and secrets kept within the family.

I really enjoyed this book, the two love stories intertwining throughout the book, the family secrets being discovered while Kezzie undertakes the renovation of Heartsease House Gardens, with her wish being to recreate the garden that Edward created for Lillian. The finding of a chest filled with old love letters, diaries and plans enables Lizzie to do this.

The author tells the stories of both eras really well. Williams has said that the idea for the book came partly from a knot garden that she visited and also from the house and garden where her husband grew up and it can seen throughout this book that Williams has done much research into knot gardens,plants and meanings of flowers to ensure that this book is correct in all ways.

There are also other themes included within this book alongside gardens: single parents, death of a spouse and the effect on the remaining partner and the complicated topic of love and relationships.

I absolutely loved this book and have already been recommending it to friends and random strangers in my local WHSmiths (other bookshops available of course). It is a definite great summer read - perfect for a beach read or relaxing in the garden of a sunny afternoon/evening.

Thank you to Avon for sending me this book to review.

The Clumsy Monkey (Animal Antics) by Lucy Courtenay

Roll up, roll up, for some crazy creature capers! Morris is a very shy monkey, which is no fun when his whole family loves nothing better than howling, whooping, shouting, laughing and generally being very loud and raucous. Poor mumbling Morris decides to set out to find some new, quiet friends. But there's danger lurking in the jungle, especially for a little monkey. Morris needs to speak up, but will he ever find his voice?
Morris the monkey is a young monkey who has difficulty in climbing and remaining hung on to trees, he his a clumsy monkey. Following an embarrassing lesson in the nursery class, Morris decides he would be better on his own, not causing more embarrassment to his mum. However, when Morris decides to go on a nighttime adventure he finds a couple of leopards are about to pounce on his old troop - can Morris raise the alarm and save his old friends??
This is the fifth book in the fabulous Animal Antics series by Lucy Courtenay and is just as good, if not better than the previous books in the series. The book is great for a child to share with others or for children 7+ to read on their own. The story is split into chapters which are the perfect length to read at night time. Throughout the book, there are many brilliantly drawn illustrations by Phil Alderson which are not particularly cartoon like.
During this book I was introduced to a new animal, the Pangolin, an animal I had never heard of. At the end of the book there is also two pages of useful, totally true facts about the animals included and area where the story is based. Who knew that some monkeys burp at their friends for fun (remind you of anyone?). The story is a great way for children to learn about animals in a fun way.
I would recommend this series of books as presents for children aged about 7 and above. They will be loved by animal lovers and will teach them little facts too.
Thank you to Stripes Publishing for sending me the book to review.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Buster's Naughty Tricks (Kitten Club) by Sue Mongredien

Welcome to Kitten Club! Amy, Molly, Lily, Ruby, Ella and Mia meet whilst choosing their adorable new kittens. Eager to stay in touch, the girls form Kitten Club so that they can get together each week and swap stories about their cute kittens! Lily's kitten Buster is terribly cute, but he's forever clawing the furniture and knocking precious things off shelves, and Mum and Dad are beginning to lose their patience. Lily makes excuses for Buster, but when he wrecks her costume for the school play, she's really upset. Can the Kitten Club girls come up with some ways to keep the naughty little kitten occupies and out of trouble?
The perfect book for cat loving girls who are reading independently or like to share a 'more grown up' story book.
The book is about a group of girls who have set up their own club - the kitten club- from when they met having bought kittens from the same litter. When I was younger I always wanted to make my own secret club, but never did, this sounds like a great idea. They meet regularly and discuss what their kittens are up to. In this installment Buster is up to lots of tricks and Lily is worried her mother will give her away.
The book is ideal for children age 7+ and can be shared with others or read independently, with short chapters, perfect length for one per night and interspersed with lovely pencil sketch illustrations.
The book does have a Christmassy theme, including a Christmas show, and therefore would make a great Christmas present for kitten loving girls aged 7+.
Thank you to Stripes for sending me the book to review.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Love and Freedom by Sue Moorcroft

New start, new love. That's what Honor Sontag needs after her life falls apart, leaving her reputation in tatters and her head all over the place. So she flees her native America and heads for Brighton, England. Honor's hoping for a much-deserved break and the chance to find the mother who abandoned her as a baby. What she gets is an entanglement with a mysterious male whose family seems to have a finger in every pot in town. Martyn Mayfair has sworn off women with strings attached, but is irresistibly drawn to Honor, the American who keeps popping up in his life. All he wants is an uncomplicated relationship built on honesty, but Honor's past threatens to undermine everything. When secrets about her mother start to spill out ...Honor has to make an agonising choice. Will she live up to her dutiful name and please others? Or will she choose freedom? From the best selling author of Starting Over, this novel has great charm and a cast of unforgettable characters
A great read for the summer by Sue Moorcroft.
The book begins with Honor, an American visiting England following a break up with her husband, being rescued by Martyn, the holiday cottage owner's son, from the British summer sun (that very rarely seen phenomena) and calls his sister, a doctor, to treat her.
There are many story lines within the book: Honor's search for her mother who left her as a baby; Martyn's family and their secrets, a complicated friendship; the Eastingdean Teapot, where Honor secures a job and the staff who run it; and Honor's ex husband are all included within the book.As you read further and further into this book, more secrets are revealed, with twists and turns in relationships and family life.
The characters are all likable except Robina in the Teapot and i found myself wanting to mother Ru (Robina's son) at many points during the book. Honor's ex husband in America, Stef, was a bad guy and it was obvious that Honor should leave him. I found the conclusion a satisfying one, not a happy ever after one which could of happened.
This a great read, a story that starts of slowly and continues to build and develop. As with Moorcroft's books, there is humour and sadness in the book. A great summer read, to pop in your hand luggage or to read on a beach or in the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
A book I would recommend to all for Summer 2011.
Thank you to Choc Lit Publishers for sending me teh book to reviw.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

You and Your Tween, Managing the years from 9 to 13 with Hollie Smith (Netmums)

How much time should your child be spending on the computer? How and when should you approach the subject of sex? How do you help them deal with rejection, rivalry and bullying? YOU AND YOUR TWEEN answers all these questions and many more. A comprehensive guide to the challenging years of early adolescence, this book offers advice from a hand-selected panel of experts on everything from education to puberty. But, crucially, there are hundreds of top tips and suggestions from other mums - the members of, the rapidly growing online community of mothers sharing valuable information on all aspects of childcare. It's real advice that really works and will help you maintain a healthy relationship with your child through the tricky tween years.
This book has arrived at just the right time, with my daughter turning 9 this month, ever closer to those teenage years, although the attitude has already started, I need all the support and advice I can get in coping with these next few years.
The book comes from the great team at Netmums. There are 8 sections within the book, all covering different areas of life: conflict and communication; education; friends and peers; puberty, sex and relationships; modern media; good health; emotional issues; and independence and responsibility. There is great advice in each section and also includes sections on what the experts say, along with what other netmums say (on the netmums forum). This is a great way of getting info across - the experts are able to explain what is happening psychologically and physically etc but the netmum members are able to explain how they coped etc, letting readers know they are not the only person to go through this. I have read through the conflict and communication chapter and have been thinking 'thank goodness, I am not the only one to have a child who does this' throughout the whole chapter. I found the book offers great advice and I will be putting some of the techniques and ideas into practice.
There are lots of tips included within the book and the editor has made them clearly visible, including them in shaded boxes and although many are common sense, others are very easy to undertake.
I recommend this book to parents of children aged 9 to 13 as a vital resource to have on your book shelf, full of useful hints and tips that will see parents through the ups and downs of their child's tween years. A great book to dip in and out of when you need a second opinion.
Thank you to the publishers, Headline, for sending me this book to review.

30 second psychology by Christian Jarrett (Editor)

The key ideas in Psychology explained, with colour illustrations, in half a minute. Pavlov's Dogs, Psychoanalysis, Milgram's Obedience Study, and Beck's Cognitive Therapy? Sure, you know what they all mean. That is, you've certainly heard of them. But do you know enough about these psychology theories to join a dinner party debate or dazzle the bar with your knowledge? 30-Second Psychology takes the top 50 strands of thinking in this fascinating field, and explains them to the general reader in half a minute, using nothing more than two pages, 300 words, and one picture. The inner workings of the human mind will suddenly seem a lot more fun, and along the way we meet many of the luminaries in the field, including William James, Aaron Beck, and (of course) Sigmund Freud. From Behaviorism to Cognitivism, what better way to get a handle on your inner demons?

As an Open University student, in my first year of on Early Years studies degree I was intrigued by this book. There are lots of theories about how children develop psychology and anything that would help me to understand and remember them is a great bonus to me!

There are 50 psychology theories explained in the book all in 30 seconds, or over 1-2 pages. The book has seven sections into which the theories are split: old school, new school; growth and change; decision making and emotions; social psychology; ways we differ; disordered minds and thoughts and language. Each section begins with a glossary, which explains in basic English. Each theory has a three second psyche and a 3 minute analysis explanation which are very handy for revision. There is also a more in depth explanation which gives the basic information and can be used to research further information as necessary.

I would recommend this book to psychology students of all levels, along with students of child development etc.

Thank you to Michael from The School Run Forum for sending me this book to review.

Frommers England with your family

Great Family Trips You'll Remember Forever At last, a travel guide for families. See the best of everything, with expert advice from mums and dads for mums and dads, giving you the confidence for an inspired trip while keeping all the family happy. With your Family has the inside knowledge for trouble-free breaks full of memories to last a lifetime. * Hunt for a crazy T-Rex on the loose in Norfolk* Visit an eerie, top secret nuclear bunker* Find out if you can make it as an astronaut* Discover the cave where the magician Merlin lived*Plus the best attractions, food & drink and accommodation*Also hundreds of evocative photos and regional maps Frommer's England With Your Family is a full colour, practical and accessible book for independently minded UK families looking to make the most of their family holiday. The guide highlights the best opportunities for families in the region and offer expert opinion on where to stay, where to eat and where to spend your holiday time enjoyably. Includes sections on: London, Surry, Kent & Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset & Wiltshire, The West Country, East Anglia, Midlands, Central England, The Northwest, Cumbria & the Lakes, Yorkshire, The Northeast

A guide book aimed specifically for families, full of great places for days out and all given star ratings (from 0 to 3 stars). The reviews are written by the authors, Ben and Dinah Hatch and are written in a friendly, informative manner and include personal references to what interested them there.

The book is split into six sections of England and each section has its own top 10 highlights for children before splitting the section into smaller areas and reviewing many attractions from the area. There is essential information on getting around the area by train or bus, things to see and do, fun facts about the area, along with further, more detailled information about specific towns, villages or areas. There is also details from family friendly accomadation and dining.

In all a great book to have in the glove compartment when out on family days out. The book also contains entrance fee costs and opening times, however it is advisable to double check these before making a specific journey.

Thank you to Michael at The School Run Forum for sending me this book to review.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

How to raise a happy toddler by Tizzie Hall

Tizzie Hall is an international bestselling childcare author who has been working with babies and parents for over 18 years. The tried and tested information in this book will help you to deal with the inevitable challenges that come as your baby becomes a toddler. This easy-to-use guide includes: sleep and feeding routines for children between one and three years; solutions to common sleep problems and advice on the transition from cot to bed; dealing with tantrums and introducing boundaries; advice on potty training for boys and girls; and, answers to common health concerns and safety issues. With real-life case studies, answers to common questions and brilliant tips, "How to Raise a Happy Toddler" will help you to have a happy, rested and well-adjusted toddler and allow you to enjoy this wonderful and exciting period of their lives.
A great book for parents of toddlers which covers many issues which are linked to sleep issues; also dealing with tantrums, advice on potty training and answers to many common health questions.
I have read many books about bringing up children and I have found some of them very regimental - talking about routines, giving set times for feeds and sleeps, and at x months they will be doing this, this and this. I quickly put these books back, not liking that they see children as 'robots' and not individuals. I found this book to be very different and friendly, offering advice to common issues, offering suggestions in a friendly manner and to issues that parents struggle with but are offered little advice - how to cope with changes to routine, e.g. when the clocks go forward or back, what to do when you go abroad and have a time difference. However, this book has been written in friendly, plain English, with case studies to demonstrate ideas or dilemmas. A tried and tested guide to many common issues - I recommend to all to give it a try.
This book would make a great gift for parents who have babies or toddlers as a great resource to have on the shelf for ideas when they have a new hurdle to cross or need a different viewpoint.
Thank you to Ebury for sending me the book to review.

Top Tips for Weaning by Gina Ford

Weaning your baby on to solid foods is one of the most important milestones during the early months of parenthood, and Gina Ford's expert advice on weaning makes a baby's transition from milk to solid foods as straightforward as possible. Gina's no-nonsense quick and easy tips will help you to: understand which foods to introduce and at what age; get the balance of milk feeds and solids right; and eliminate night feeds once solids are introduced. This handy guide offers sensible solutions to ensure that your baby eats well now, and as she grows up.
Another useful book from Gina Ford. This one is jam packed with useful hints and tips about weaning: when to start weaning?, how to start the weaning process; how to prepare food and what foods to try when; to name but a few. There are also a number of very useful case studies throughout the book and I found they were very useful to discuss different issues surrounding the complex world of weaning babies. It also includes ideas for 'difficulties' in weaning - refusing milk, constipation, introduction of a beaker.
There is a useful list towards the end of the book of useful resources and other a further reading list.
The guidelines for weaning babies has changed a number of times, however this book is up to date and enforces the guidelines as set by The Department of Health (DOH) for weaning.
I did find the book to be similar to many of the other Gina Ford books, in that it is routine based - where babies are fed at xam, xam, xpm, xpm etc. and therefore I preferred to look at the book as guidelines, a book to look for ideas about weaning, the foods to try when etc. Each baby is different and things should be taken at their pace, in my opinion, and I never stuck to a routine from these books. One of the best resources re weaning and current recommendations is to contact your health visitor, however this book is a great resource to have for a quick idea or reassurance.
I would recommend this book to mums who have young babies but also recommend that they listen to and ask questions to their health visitors too.
Thank you to Ebury for sending me the book to review.

Dead Man's Grip by Peter James

I want them to suffer, and I want them dead...Carly Chase is traumatised ten days after being in a fatal traffic accident which kills a teenage student from Brighton University. Then she receives news that turns her entire world into a living nightmare. The drivers of the other two vehicles involved have been found tortured and murdered. Now Detective Superintendent Roy Grace of the Sussex Police force issues a stark and urgent warning to Carly: She could be next. The student had deadly connections. Connections that stretch across the Atlantic. Someone has sworn revenge and won't rest until the final person involved in that fatal accident is dead. The police advise Carly her only option is to go into hiding and change identity. The terrified woman disagrees - she knows these people have ways of hunting you down anywhere. If the police are unable to stop them, she has to find a way to do it herself. But already the killer is one step ahead of her, watching, waiting, and ready ...
Carly Stevens swerved to avoid the cyclist, however a positive breath test is the start of her nightmare. When the other two drivers are killed is suspicious circumstances, it appears that Carly's life could also be in danger.
This is the first book by Peter James that I have read, however my husband has been read them for some time and saying how brilliant they are and so I gave it a go. I am certainly going to be raiding hubby's bookshelf (compared to be sets of bookshelves) to read more by James!
I found myself drawn into the book from page one and it was one of those books that I had to read just one more chapter before I put it down. Set in Brighton, it is a great British cop drama, and I enjoyed reading a British crime novel for a change.
Although this is the seventh in the series of Grace novels I did not find it a problem that I have not read any of the earlier books, it is a great standalone read! I enjoyed the two sides to Grace that James includes in the book: there is Grace, the detective, and the investigation, however, there is also Grace, the fiance, the expectant father and his home life. It was great to read about Grace outside of the force, although of course the case was always there in his mind, he also has Chloe, his fiancee to think about.
I am a follower of Peter James on Twitter and i love reading about his day to day life, his days out with the police force, meetings with doctors and pathologists about details he wants to clarify for his next book and it is evident to see throughout this book that James does much background research before writing each novel. There is much detail contained in the book and it adds something to the story.
I would recommend this book to crime lovers everywhere, whether you are serious Peter James fans or, like me, a Peter James novice.
Thank you Midas PR for sending me this book to review.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

It happened one summer - Polly Williams

After years of romantic drought, Nell is enjoying a thrilling fling with a sexy new man and loving London life, somehow managing to juggle single motherhood with a busy career. Plus, in the city it's easy to avoid her sister who is about to marry Nell's ex. (Yes, messy.) Then she gets the news. Please could she return to Tredower, the crumbling old family home in Cornwall for the summer? Disaster. Tredower has no wifi, harbours her big dysfunctional family, and, far worse, memories of her passionate love affair with the man who is about to become her brother-in-law. The past is another county. Can she go there? Another woman is making her way west too, carrying an explosive secret. Love will be lost, broken, and found, lives changed forever...
The annual hog roast ended badly for Nell when she found out her sister had feelings for Nell's boyfriend. Their relationship ended as did Nell and her sister's, Heather. The book tells the story of the summer Nell ends up back at Tredower, caring for her mum, and meeting her sister again. The book is the development of their relationship, but also that of Nell rebuilding her life, becoming a full time mum to her young daughter, the adjustment to a slower life and her enjoyment of the life at Tredower - it sounds like a lovely life and I for one, would love to visit the area, the village life sounds perfect.
There is also another storyline throughout the book, that of April, who is visiting the area on a painting course, however there appears to be some link to either the family or to Tredower, the house. It is an intriguing story, to which the reader is not told until near the end of the book but is not what I thought it was - a nice little surprise.
I really enjoyed this book, easy to pick up and get lost in. A perfect holiday read, one to put in the beach bag or to read on a lazy weekend. The writing style was great and I will be looking out for more of this author's books to read in the future.
I would recommend this book to chicklit lovers everywhere or someone who wants a summer read for their holiday.
Thank you to Headline for sending me the book to review.