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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Don't Let Me Go

Sometimes a child knows better...'Grace': Ten-year-old Grace knows that her mum loves her, but her mum loves drugs too. And there's only so long Grace can fend off the 'woman from the county' who is threatening to put her into care. Her only hope is...'Billy': Grown-man Billy Shine hasn't been out of his apartment for years. People scare him, and the outside world scares him even more. Day in, day out, he lives a perfectly orchestrated silent life within his four walls. Until now...'The Plan': Grace bursts into Billy's life with a loud voice and a brave plan to get her mum clean. And it won't be easy, because they will have to confiscate the one thing her mum holds most dear ...they will have to kidnap Grace.

I have been a fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde for a long time, in fact I think I first discovered her when her book, Love in the Present Tense, was chosen as one of the books for Richard and Judy's book club in 2007. 

This book is one of my favourites, although this may be because i identify with one of the main characters, Billy, so much as I have faced a similar battle as him, but more of that later.

The main character in the book is Grace, a ten year old girl, whose mother is a drug addict, and is often left to fend for herself while her mother is out of it. They live in a house made up of many flats; Billy, a single man who lives on his own and is never seen outside of his flat;Mr Lafferty, a single man who was rarely seen and kept himself to himself and hiding a secret from his past; Felipe, a spaniard; Mrs Hinman, an old lady, living on her own; and Rayleen, a lady who steps in when Grace was about to be taken into care. The book follows the story of Grace and Rayleen's attempts to keep her out of foster care, with the residents from the flats working together to provide a baby sitting service, which the lady from the social finds acceptable. Felippe teaches her Spanish and Billy teaches her to tap dance. 

I said previously that Billy was my favorite character and that i sympathise with his journey throughout the book. Billy has become housebound due to panic attacks. For people who have never suffered from panic attacks may find this difficult to understand, however while pregnant with my first child I did become nearly housebound and when I had to leave the house found it extremely difficult and distressing. While reading the book it reminded me how I felt and when Billy tried to take Grace to school and had to turn around and run home petrified I remembered that feeling vividly. Either Catherine Ryan Hyde has herself been in this situation and experienced these feelings or has done a lot of research with sufferers of the condition. The range of emotions and steps Billy had to take to succeed in watching Grace's performance at school was perfect.

I also liked Grace, she was a young girl, only 10, saw the good in everybody and didn't like that each resident within the house were in their own flats, didn't know their neighbours or have any community spirit. Grace was able to bring them all together and new friendships were made and problems shared and sorted. She had to do a lot more for herself and deal with things the average 10 year old would not be expected to deal with, however she was still vulnerable and Rayleen allowed her to be a normal 10 year old, who enjoyed having her hair and nails done etc. Grace has to make hard decisions and when she tells her mother that she does not want to see her until she has managed 30 days of being clean, it is obvious that Grace misses her mother but knows this is the only way she can remain out of care and to make her mother understand her feelings towards her.

I think that is a brilliant book which covers a number of hard hitting subjects but has a very good basic story underneath these subjects.

I would recommend it to anyone who wants a strong story which covers issues which are current in today's world. I was especially glad to find a book which includes panic attacks and accurately  details how sufferers feel and the tough journey they face to over come them.

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

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire - Horrid Henry

Four new stories in which Horrid Henry terrorizes his classmates at a school sleepover in the museum; plays with Perfect Peter and tricks him into handing over all his money; gets out of writing his own story for Miss Battle-Axe by adapting one of Peter's; and meets the Nudie Foodie, a celebrity chef, who comes to the school to improve school dinners. No more burgers! No more chips!

My children are huge Horrid Henry fans and so when we heard that the twentieth Horrid Henry book would be released in September we were very happy! 

This twentieth book contains four stories: Horrid Henry Writes a Story; Horrid Henry and the Nudie Foodie; Horrid Henry and the Mad Professor; and Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire. As I have come to expect from Francesca Simon and Horrid Henry stories, all four stories are funny, full of mischief and practical jokes! The stories are, as usual, accompanied by cartoonish illustrations by Tony Ross which capture many funny moments within each story.

My favourite story of the book is Horrid Henry and the Mad Professor where Henry persuades Peter that he should be tiding Henry's room, I chuckled when I saw the title for the second story, Horrid Henry and the Nudie Foodie - am I the only person who thinks Nudie means naked?? Luckily, this story is about a chef who produces simple food, full of goodness.

There is, however, one thing I am unsure about for this book, the front cover. This book has been given a raised, 3D, cover with a moulded 'plastic' Henry being added to the front of the book. Although the illustrations are of the same style to the previous books, I am unsure on the 3D section. I prefer the flat books, easier to have on a book shelf, not taking up to much room on a shelf or in a bag. However this is only a small point and would not discourage me from buying this book as there has been no increase in RRP.

This is a perfect gift for any Horrid Henry fans and I am sure this book will be on many children's Christmas lists this year. Perfect for all ages, young or old.

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Publishing and Michael from The School Run forum for sending me this book to review.

Sarah Broadhurst and Lovereading

It has been brought to my attention this morning that there has been an email sent to publishers etc from Lovereading which includes the following:

There is only ONE real Sarah Broadhurst! 

As you will know Sarah Broadhurst is one of the most respected editorial book experts in the trade and, each month for Lovereading, she selects the best fiction for our audience.

She has been doing this since Lovereading started some 6 years ago, but if you've been wondering whether Sarah is moonlighting elsewhere online, rest assured she's not. If you come across another Sarah Broadhurst on the net then do bear in mind she's not NOT the genuine article. Rather someone who would appear to be riding on the coat tails of our own Lovereading and Bookseller magazine expert.

You can follow the 'real' Sarah Broadhurst on Twitter @S_Broadhurst and our Sarah lives in Somerset not Worcestershire.

Obviously, you may want to send copies to both but our Sarah has noticed that sometimes books which she's been promised are on their way don't ever get to her. So  do please check your systems to ensure publicity copies aren't going to waste. We'd hate you to be inadvertently mislead.

I would like to say that I have never claimed to be Sarah Broadhurst from Lovereading/Bookseller and I always state this to publishers/PR etc when I approach them. It is unfortunate that my married name is the same as a well known reviewer in the industry however I would like to say that I have never used this to my advantage. I have also not, to my knowledge, ever received books that have been meant for the other Sarah Broadhurst.

I hope that this will not affect my ability to be a book reviewer for book publishers, surely the more reviews out there, the better for publicity and promotion.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Pies: Savoury and Sweet (The Australian Women's Weekly)

Pies: Savoury & Sweet - Australian Women's Weekly Standard

A piping hot pie straight from the oven is hard to resist. More than any other food, pies represent home cooking at its finest. From the rich buttery crust to the deeply satisfying filling, pies are the perfect way to show love to family and friends. This book contains recipes for savoury and sweet pies such as creamy fish pie, a rich saucy steak pie and a crispy apple pie. There are also tips on making, using and buying pastry, making the process of baking at home as easy as pie.

This is the second recipe book from The Australian Women's Weekly, the first being Mince It and I was looking forward to seeing if all their books are to the same high standard in content and ideas as this, and I was not disappointed.

As the title suggests the book contains recipes for .... pies! Lots of pies, both sweet and savoury. There are five chapters of recipes: poultry; seafood;meat; vegetable; and sweet pies and tarts. The first chapter is all about pastry - the chapter is only a few pages long but contains lots of useful and important advice and tips about how to make the perfect basic shortcrust pastry step by step.

The subsequent chapters are full of bright, appetising looking photographs of finished dishes which accompany lots of recipes. There are recipes which will be suitable for many occasions and feature both traditional and modern dishes. The book is from Australia and therefore some recipes may have some Australian twists e.g. cottage pie including both a pastry base and potato topping. I noted in my previous book review, Mince It, that the book contained ingredients more commonly available in Australia but I did not find this within this book. There are many gorgeous sounding recipes which I am wanting to try, especially white chocolate, lime and ginger mousse tart and old fashioned lamb and celeriac pie.

The recipes all start with a comprehensive and complete ingredients list. The recipe is broken down into easy steps, with the recipe separated for each component. The one thing that I really like about this book is that for each recipe there are estimated preparation and cooking times, average servings and, most importantly in my eyes, the nutritional count per servings (this includes total fat; saturated fat; calories; carbohydrates; protein and fibre per serving). The pages also contain many tips for the recipes.

The inside of the front and back covers and added flaps also have some great information. There is a a section on decorating pastry, including trimming pastry and how to edge pies, along with a pictorial guide to some of the ingredients used within the recipes - each ingredient included has a brief description, possible other names and any other useful tips. A full conversion chart is also included for oven temperatures, liquid measures, length measures and dry measures for metric and imperial measurements.

I would recommend this book as a great addition to any kitchen library - plenty of ideas of how to use up those leftovers or to create a meal for any occasion.

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

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Olivia Flies High by Lyn Gardner

Olivia Flies High (Stage School)

Olivia is waiting impatiently to tell her best friends the good news about the highwire act - it's been picked to perform in New York for a night! But her friends have news of their own - Olivia loses herself in learning the trapeze, while Tom begins his West End stage career in The Sound of Music. But weird things keep happening, and soon Tom is on the verge of losing everything he's ever wanted. It wouldn't have anything to do with the return of Katie Wilkes-Cox, would it? In a nail-biting finale, Olivia performs not one but two daring rescues before tragedy strikes - As for Katie, could it be So Long, Farewell - for ever -

This is the second book in the series by Lyn Gardner about Olivia Marvell and her time at her grandmother's stage school, The Swan Academy of Theatre and Dance. I reviewed the first book, Olivia's First Term, earlier this year and enjoyed it thoroughly.

This book starts the term after the end of book one, and the students are auditioning for The Sound of Music. Tom and Georgia are both chosen to be two of the children, however Olivia is upset as 'Romeo and Juliet on the Highwire' has been asked to perform at a special charity show on Broadway, New York. However, when Olivia finds that Tom will be unable to attend Broadway because the two clash, she is disappointed when Tom chooses The Sound of Music. Olivia is very upset and says things in the heat of the moment which she later regrets. When she tries to apologise she is blanked by Tom - could the reappearance of Katie Wilkes-Cox, the girl who was expelled following her attempts to get Olivia expelled last term, be anything to do with this? There are also parts of the story where Olivia's past experience of circus skills come in handy with daredevil rescues. The story is based around the Sound of Music performance and Olivia and Tom's friendship dispute, however there is also news of Olivia's father attempt to walk the tightrope over a vast expanse in Idaho.

This book is just as good as the first one of the series. There are many of the characters from book one who are also in book 2. Olivia's younger sister, Eel, is  a big part of this second book, stepping in at the last minute and fulfilling her dream. 

As I previously said, I really enjoyed this book but can not imagine the Italia Conti or Sylvia Young schools having tightrope walking and trapeze classes on their daily class list.

This story is perfect for children aged 9+ to read alone and would be perfect for children who dream about life on the stage.

I am already looking forward to the third book in the series, Olivia and the Movie Stars.

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

The Froobles - Ozzy Onion and the noisy dinosaurs and Chloe Carrot and the greedy witch

Chloe Carrot - FrooblesOzzy Onion - Froobles

The Froobles know it's time,
They can feel it in the air.
Imagination wakes them up,
So they can love and care.

The children make a scene
That is full of magic and adventure.
And when they go outside to play,
Into the scene the Froobles venture.

This new series of books for children are fantastic. They each have a moral to the story: in Chloe Carrot the moral is learning to help others; and in Ozzy Onion the moral is to play nicely. The books are the perfect size for slipping into a bag to read to children while waiting or bored. They remind me of the very popular Mr Men series: the size of the books; the brightly coloured simple pictures; great names; and easy to follow stories.

The background content for each picture has been created by playgroup children and they accompany the stories perfectly. The Froobles characters are then added on top. Each Frooble is a vegetable or fruit and promote healthy lifestyles in general, which is an important message to get across with the number of reception age children being classed as obese rising in the UK. 

Each book also includes one page of stickers featuring characters and pictures from within the story. What young child doesn't like stickers.

With an RRP of £2.99 these books are perfect as a little gift or as an affordable treat instead of comics. I would recommend these as the perfect book to read to children of all ages and for older children to read themselves.

Thank you to Top That Publishing for sending me the books to review.

Top That Publishing are also developing an App to accompany the books and will be released in November 2011 with famous stars including Denise Van Outen, Johnny Vaughan, Edith Bowman and Reggie Yates lending their voices to the characters.

Have you met the Froobles??

The Froobles are fruit and vegetable characters that have been brought to life by the magic of children's imaginations. Scenes created by playgroup children provide the Frooble characters with an ever-changing and magical world to explore. The Froobles exist in the real world, but only conduct their adventures in the fantastical scenes created by the children.

With twelve original books to collect, children will delight in each exciting story, which follows the tale of a Frooble and their friends. Bright, colorful pages are combined with simple, yet emotive text, which tackles lessons about growing up to the target readership. Each title includes one page of stickers.

Following the launch of the books in September, the interactive Froobles Apps. featuring the voices of Johnny Vaughan, Denise Van Outen, Edith Bowman and Reggie Yates, will be available to purchase on iTunes in November.

(taken from press release by Top That Publishing)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Emma's Stormy Summer by Miranda Newboult

Emma's Stormy Summer
"Dad thinks I'm a nuisance" It may be sunny but Emma's perfect world seems to be unravelling in front of her. First her friend Becca started being horrible to EVERYONE and now Daddy is ignoring her and acting weird. Emma can't help but worry that it is all her fault and as the storm clouds gather over her Dad she feels more and more guilty and responsible. If only she could get everything back to normal. This summer she realises that growing up can be a rollercoaster and maybe, just maybe, she should relax and enjoy the ride.

I found this book to be one that I would recommend to children, as it covers many themes and issues  which affect children in today's society. It is aimed at children aged 8-12 years and has been written to a high standard, discussing issues clearly and fully.

Emma is the main character and is a popular girl at school, with her own close friends, however one of her best friends appears to be ignoring her , Becca, and they have heard she is bullying younger children in the school. The friends are unsure what is going on and do not discuss their concerns with their parents or teachers, however, there is a further instance at school, and Becca is caught out, leading to her apologising in public and admitting the real reason her behaviour has changed.

Emma's father also appears to have many worries. Emma overhears, in a conversation between her parents, that he is about to loose his job when the bank he works out, closes down. Emma's father becomes depressed, not enjoying and joining in on the school sports day or family outings. However, the real extent to his illness become apparent to Emma until they are they are on their family holiday. 

The book is a good read and I am sure children everywhere will enjoy it. Aimed at 8-12 year old girls, it is something that I could see a group of friends reading, each learning different from something but being a book that they could discuss together. 

The main themes are friendship, depression in parents, friends moving to different schools and the camaraderie and community spirit with living in a small village. I would love to live somewhere where carnivals were a highlight on the summer calendar.

Thank you to the publishers, Tannbourne, for sending me the book to review. This was their first book which they published and I wish them good luck and success in the future.

The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake

Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets

Twelve new amateur bakers are ready to rise to the Great British Bake Off challenge. While they don their aprons, adjust to their new ovens and get used to baking in a tent, this book takes you through the challenges from the series and shows you how to achieve baking perfection.Throughout the book, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are on hand with practical tips to help you create perfect cakes, biscuits, breads, pastries, pies and teatime treats every time, as well as showing you how to tackle their 'technical challenges', as seen on the show. There are over 120 recipes in this book, including traditional British bakes and imaginative twists using classic ingredients, as well as the best contestant recipes from the series. There is plenty to challenge keen bakers here, from brandy snaps to elaborate pastries, pavlovas to iced celebration cakes, and with a sensuous and yet practical design and full-colour, step-by-step photography, this really will become the baking book that you will turn to for years to come.

I must be one of the only people in England not to have been caught up in THe Great British Bake Off on television, everyone seems to be talking about it, however I have never caught a programme. However, this book was calling me as soon as I opened the envelope.

The book is split into eight 'chapters': cakes; biscuits and teatime treats; bread; pies and savoury pasty; tarts and sweet pastry; patisserie'; puddings and desserts; and celebration cakes.

In the introduction, this book states it is a helpful guide that covers the essentials of baking - the techniques, terms and ingredients - to help your baking taste, look and smellbetter than ever.  It attempts to do this using step by step photography and by breaking class recipes into step by step, how to makes. There are also 'best of the bake-off' recipes from the bakers included in the series.

Different skills are needed for the various recipes included in the book and these skills, once learnt, can be adapted to create many different results.

Looking at the first chapter as an example, the chapter is entitled 'Cakes'. It begins by describing the four main ways to make a cake: whisking eggs with sugar; by creaming butter with sugar and then beating the eggs; by melting the butter and then stirring in the other ingredients; and by rubbing the butter into flour and then mixing in the remaining ingredients. After learning the four ways for making a cake, the book suggests that you can begin to mix and match with fillings and toppings, flavourings and finishes. There are full step by step instructions including photographs for each step of how to make the perfect victoria sandwich and a battenburg (technical challenge) and the remaining pages of the chapter include many variations and flavouring suggestions to try.

The introductions to each chapter discusses what to do before you start a recipe. reading through and checking you have all the necessary equipment, preheat the oven and preparation of ingredients. These steps may seem simple but preparation often leads to a better end product! 

There are plenty of recipes included in this book, many have mouth-watering photographs accompanying the recipes. It is definitely not a book to look through while hungry and/or on a diet. Both savoury and sweet recipes are included within the book. There is a dish for a summers day picnic, a cake for the children when they get home from school hungry, donations to the school's fundraiser fayres or a sweet for a posh dinner party. If you need something for any occasion, there will be something in this book that would be perfect.

I would recommend this as the perfect gift for a keen cook. It is the perfect book for anyone with a sweet tooth, although there is also a chapter on savoury food too. This book is a great addition to any cook's library and will be well used.

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

Knit the City: A Whodunnknit set in London by Deadly Knitshade

Knit the City: A Whodunnknit Set in London

Since 2009, Deadly Knitshade and her covert group of dyed-in-the-wool knitting ninjas have been transforming the grey streets of London in a riot of woolly colour - one stitch at a time. No corner is safe from their yarnstorms - sublime crafty marriages of street art and knitting - which have baffled policemen, delighted tourists, and brought a touch of much-needed homespun colour into the everyday lives of Londoners. Knit the City's handmade mischief transformed a forlorn ballerina outside the Royal Opera House, cosied a Parliament Square phone box and conjured a 13-ft spider's web, replete with doomed insects and fairies, in a tunnel beneath Waterloo station. Their daring arty feats will ensure that you never see knitting - or London - the same way again.

I have seen small bits in the newspaper about a group of women decorating London with their knitting - this book is a celebration of their work and the story behind it.

The book begins as a story, illustrated with photographs of the Knit the City's work and art around London. The knitted art which is photographed and included in the book contains small pieces of art including telephone cord covers and small pieces on signpost poles and small animal 'teddies' right through to huge pieces of art including a cover for a red telephone box and the squid which decorated Charles Darwin. The photographs of the work produced by Knit the City members are fantastic and it is great to see the imaginative projects that the members have prepared. Churches bedecked with knitted bells, trees with oranges and lemons and my favorite the Alice in Wonderland set. The projects are all photographed perfectly, allowing you to see the small details included within the knitted pieces.

The book also includes patterns for knitting a small squid and a square sheep to enable you to join in the knit the city project yourself.

Each chapter is a different theme undertaken by the members and the pictures tell the story. The Yarn Corps (members) are very clever ladies and I have really enjoyed looking through and reading about their work. Towards the back of the book there is a section where the main players in the Corp are introduced to the readers.

This book is a fun book to look through and to get inspiration for fun projects avid knitters can try. There are only two simple patterns included within the book and therefore should be bought as a coffee table book and not one for adding to a knitters every expanding library.

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

Rascal's Festive Fun (My Naughty Little Puppy) by Holly Webb

Rascal's Festive Fun - My Naughty Little Puppy Bk. 6

When Ellie names her puppy Rascal, she doesn't realise how right she is! The playful little puppy is soon getting into all sorts of trouble! The Christmas holidays are here and better still, it's snowing! Ellie plans to take Rascal carol singing - in his cute Santa hat they're bound to raise loads of money for charity! But things don't go entirely to plan...

This is a great festive period story for young girls who love dogs. Ellie has a puppy called Puppy and while at her dog training class she sees a poster for a Christmas fundraiser raising money for the local dog rescue shelter. Ellie decides to organise her friends, who are also dog owners, as carol singers for the event, and they raise alot of money for the shelter. 

I would recommend this book for young girls who enjoy animal stories, especially dog lovers. I really think that Holly Webb writes the perfect books for animal lovers, they are easy to read, perfect for early readers who are gaining confidence in reading alone. Younger children will also enjoy listening to their peers reading it aloud.

Kate Pankhurst has illustrated the book beautifully, with simple pencil drawings.

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

Dirty Bertie Snow! by David Roberts and Alan MacDonald

Snow! - Dirty Bertie Bk.15

Dirty Bertie - the boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits - is back for another helping of comic chaos! Join Bertie as he takes on the challenge of beating. Know - all Nick in a sledge race, breaks a revolting world record, and changes the course of history during a battle re-enactment...

Dirty Bertie is a firm favorite in our house and this book is no exception. A perfect read for a winter evening, this is the 15th book in the popular series.

As usual there are three stories within this book;Snow!; Battle; and Record! Snow! is about the first fall of snow for the year and Bertie has to use the old  sledge he found in his Granny's shed and has a race against Know-it-all Nick.
Battle is about when Dirty Bertie accompanies his father to a re-enactment with the Battle-Axe Battle Society and attempts to rewrite history. The third story, Record, is when the school attempt to break a world record for building the biggest penny pyramid, while Dirty Bertie would prefer to set a record for burping.

The stories are full of fun and humour and will leave the young readers wanting to read more about Dirty Bertie's adventures and giggling away. The stories are perfect for early readers and are a perfect length for night time stories, although be prepared for giggles at bedtime. 

I also love the pictures throughout the book, David Roberts is a very talented illustrator and captures the mischief of the stories within the pictures perfectly.

I would recommend this book as ideal for young boys and girls who are gaining confidence in reading alone or who enjoy listening to stories. They are perfect for fans of Horrid Henry too.

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

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing (Quadrille Publishing)

Despite its long history as a leading textile design house and retailer, Liberty has yet to produce its own inspirational book of home sewing. That is set to change. This sumptuous book has been created to showcase Liberty Art Fabrics, to inspire the reader with their versatility and to provide irresistible original designs for the home. Divided into three chapters - Essential, Organisation and Luxury - this book contains projects ranging from practical fold-up shopping bags to elegant cushions, through handy display boards and slipcovers to indulgent kimonos, beanbags and throws. Variations are included for many projects so the core collection is in fact an inexhaustible resource of ideas. This book offers the opportunity to add an element of Liberty style using as much or as little Liberty fabric as you choose. While respecting the essential timelessness of the Liberty brand, the projects present a modern way of using the prints for a contemporary take on home furnishings. They include both core items as well as more special designs but they are all characterised by the imaginative use of fabric with often unexpected combinations of colour and pattern. The projects in this book all showcase Liberty fabrics to maximum effect.

Before I even opened the cover of this book I loved it! The cover is some of the famous Liberty fabrics; bright, bold, patterns full of colour and design.
There are full page prints of fabric designs.

The book details the history of Liberty, from Arthur Lasenby Liberty opening his first shop on Regent Street in 1875, where he sold imported textiles from China, Japan and India, to the creation of dyes and Liberty's own designs of fabrics using imported silks, top designers being commissioned to produce patterns for Liberty's and the movement from copper roller printing to machine screen printing and beyond.

There are instructions of how to make cushions, curtains and bags and these can be made simply or adapted to a more complex design. Many of the designs are traditional designs, using classic Liberty prints but there are also modern designs for i pod/phone cases and modern style bags.

Templates are included for projects with clear instructions and many steps are pictured as well as written. There are plenty of photographs showing finished items

The projects are categorised into three areas: essential, organisation and  luxury. The essentials section includes projects for cushions, curtains, bags and aprons, The organisation section has ideas for boards, jewellery rolls, pincushions and gadget cases. The luxury section has some beautiful corsages, lampshades, kimono, throws and a traditional quilt

The last section of the book is entitled sewing basics. There are pages entitled essential equipment, giving advice on what is essential in a sewing kit and also what would be useful; haberdashery advice - what threads to use, how you can use buttons, beads, press studs and zips to add detail and fastenings to projects; how to get started on projects and also step by step details for hems, seams and basic hand stitches. There is also a very useful glossary of terms used within the book and a catalogue of liberty's most popular fabric prints. This section is a very useful section to keep referring to when working on projects within the book

I really enjoyed looking through this book. There is plenty of inspiration for projects to brighten up your home and even if Liberty Fabrics are out of your price range, the project ideas can be used using other fabrics. The final section is a great resource for budding stitchers.

I would recommend this book as a great gift for anyone who enjoys making things or wants to update their home using existing furnishings and adapting the make do and mend attitude of the country today. It would make a great addition to any stitchers library.

Thank you to Quadrille Publishing for sending me the book to review.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Persuade Me by Juliet Archer

The second in Juliet Archer's Darcy & Friends series. When do you let your heart rule your head? As far as men are concerned, Anna Elliot is stuck in the past. No one can compare to Rick Wentworth, the man she was persuaded to give up eight years ago. Meanwhile, Rick's moved on - and up. He's got a successful career and a carefully controlled love life where his heart doesn't get a look in. The words 'forgive and forget' aren't in Rick's vocabulary. The word 'regret' is definitely in Anna's. When they meet again, can she persuade him that their lost love is worth a second chance?

Persuade Me is Juliet Archer's second book in her series entitled 'Darcy and Friends', a series based on Jane Austen's classics, with Archer's modern take. 

I absolutely adored this book! I have recently been enjoying Victoria Connelly's Jane Austen inspired novels and so was interested in reading another author's ideas. In fact, Persuade Me is based on Persuasion, as was Victoria Connelly's latest The Perfect Hero. However, I found Archer's book to be a completely different idea to Connelly's, both absolutely brilliant but different!

The main character, Anna, discovers her first love, who she met in France but was heartbroken when her father discouraged the romance and encouraged her to return to England and her place at Oxford University while Rick went to Australia travelling, is coming to England.  He lives in Australia, where he is a marine biologist and is visiting England on a book tour of his book. The book follows the orginial storyline of Jane Austen's Persuasion and is a great read.

The book is full of great characters. I did not like Anna's father, Sir Walter Elliot, 8th Baronet of Kellynch or Minty, Anna’s godmother and also close friend to her late mother, Irina. I thought that they were both pompous and cared more about class and social standing than seeing how much Anna and Rick were in love.  Anna's sister Mona, appears to be always drunk or trying to get others to look after her children, while complaining how much stress and strain she is under. Walter appears to be only interested in receiving his daily massage from the exotic Cleopatra and making money!

I much preferred Mona's husband's family, the Musgroves. Charles, married to Mona, has two sisters; Louisa and Henrietta, along with their parents are warm and accommodating. They live in a big country home and love having the grandchildren around and host family meals in the garden etc.

Anna and Rick's relationship is the main story within the book. At the start of the book, both are apprehensive about meeting each other and talking about their relationship, however they both go through a range of emotions before they finally realise their feelings for each other. There is much interference of others, Louisa decides she will try to flirt with Rick, with disastrous consequences when she ends up in hospital with a suspected head injury. Lou's sister Henrietta also flirts, but is quickly reminded of her love for her farm manager boyfriend. There is also interest for Anna, William is very persistent with Anna, but her neighbour Jennie makes a discovery which enables Anna to get rid of this admirer quickly. 

I found Archer's writing style easy to read, easy to loose myself in and wanting to read more. It was easy to pick up and I would loose myself in it for hours, always wanting to read just one more chapter! I thought Archer was able to take the main themes and storylines within Persuasion and adapt them to the modern day world and none seem out of place.

I would definitely recommend this book to Jane Austen lovers, it is a brilliant modern adaptation of Persuasion and stays true to the original story. 

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

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson

Nothing But Trouble

Chelsea Ross knows she's a great actress. Which is lucky, as she's just got the toughest role of her life! Washed up from Hollywood and in serious need of some cash, Chelsea jumps at the $10,000 opportunity to act as 'carer' to famous hockey player Mark Bressler, currently injured after a car crash. After all, how hard can it be to play nice and pick up after an incredibly hot invalid in need of her tender loving care? Just three months of playing nurse and the cash is hers. But Mark Bressler doesn't need help. The moody hockey player's glory days may be over, but he has no intention of letting anyone aid his recovery, least of all the maddeningly cheerful Chelsea. He's determined to get her to quit - and Mark isn't the type to give in. But then again, neither is Chelsea...

This is the third book in my Transworld Reading Challenge and is the first book i have read by Rachel Gibson.

The main character, Chelsea, is an actress who has returned to her twin sister's home and is looking for a job. The main male character, Mark, is a top ice hockey player, who has had a horrific car accident which has ended his professional career on the ice and needs some assistance while at home, however the nursing carers he has been sent has not been gratefully received and therefore the company who own the ice hockey team decide to offer Chelsea the job of 'personal assistant'. Their first meeting does not go very well, with Mark insisting he does not need help and Chelsea determined to get through the three months in order to collect her $10,000 bonus, which she needs to get her breast reduction surgery. However, there are sparks flying between the two of them, will they give into their desires and get together?

This was an okay read, the storyline was predictable but believable. I did like the character of Chelsea and it was good to see that the surgery she wanted was a reduction for health issues (back pain, shoulder pain etc) rather than enhancement for career progression. Her character was determined to work for the money she needed and also to help Mark although he said he didn't need any. She read through the online guest book that had been started following his accident and saw that there was lots of love and support for Mark, but also that Mark had given alot back to his fans, helping children at camps etc. 

Mark I found to be a typical male, having a set back and not looking at the positives but the negatives. He had no chance of getting back into the team and so he didnt' want to think of any alternatives to his career - it was here that Chelsea tried to make him see he could do coaching etc. I thought that Mark was very selfish at first but then he did admit his feelings for Chelsea I began to warm to him.

I thought that parts of the book were rushed over and could of been extended whereas other scenes could have been glossed over. 

After reading this book I have found that Gibson has written more of these books, and it is part of the Seattle Chinook Series, where another one is due out soon. I may pick up another in the series as a quick and easy read but will not be rushing out to buy the whole back catalogue unfortunately.

I think that this book would appeal to people who wanted a quick read, uncomplicated storyline and believable characters. The inclusion of an ice hockey team member is something i can think of another book included and may be popular for ice hockey fans.

Thank you to Transworld for sending me the book as part of the Reading Challenge.

Friday, 9 September 2011

You, Me and Thing - The Curse of the Jelly Babies by Karen McCombie

The Curse of the Jelly Babies: Bk. 1 - You Me & Thing 1

Next-door neighbours Ruby and Jackson get the surprise of their lives when they discover a Thing living at the bottom of their gardens. And when Thing places a curse on the inhabitants of the new house that's been built over his old home, Ruby and Jackson find themselves up to their eyeballs in jelly babies, magic and big trouble. I never expected to be friends with a Thing. Well, you don't, do you? You usually think of friends being either boys or girls, or maybe even cute yappy dogs. Well, Thing certainly doesn't fit into any of those categories. Thing is just a...a...Actually, I'm not sure quite how to describe it. 'A sort of troll crossed with a fairy crossed with a squirrel?' Jackson suggested, after we first discovered Thing. 'I is not a squirrel,' Thing purred grumpily, twitching its squirrelly ears. 'And not a fairy or a trolly. Whatever they is.' By the way, I never expected to be friends with Jackson Miller either. I guess I've got a bit of explaining to do, about Jackson and about Thing. (Oh, and about curses and jelly babies too, And the magic. I mustn't forget the magic!) This title contains charming black and white line illustrations by Alex T. Smith.

This is the first book in a new series by Karen McCombie aimed at children aged 7+. Flicking through the book there are lovely black and white pencil illustrations by Alex T Smith and they told the story perfectly. Full of movement and sound and little sketches add to the interest of the page.

The story is told in the first person, Ruby, who is annoyed when a wood that surrounded her parents house is cut down and houses built. One morning she opens her curtains to be confronted by a boy in only his boxer shorts, picking his nose and with hip hop music blasting from his room. The day got worse when the same boy, Jackson, was in her class at school and when the teacher found they were neighbours, decided they could be neighbours in the classroom.  The 'friendship' was not a two way partnership until, one day, when they were both in their gardens, they heard a noise coming from a plastic bag just outside of their gardens. Following an investigation, they found 'the thing', a non-squirrel, with a tiny snout and a pair of round, panicked eyes.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the inclusion of parts written in Ruby's handwriting. These parts are particularly descriptive, using descriptive words and observations that only children would use.

I would recommend this book to girls age 7+, as it is the perfect book for early readers to progress on to and read to gain confidence, or for younger children to share with others at story time. 

I am looking forward to seeing more in the series, you, me and thing and it doesn't look like the wait will be too long as book 2 is due to be released in January 2012 and book 3 in July 2012.

Thank you to the publishers, Faber and Faber (Kids) for sending me the book to review.