Challenge Participant


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Blog Tour: Wispa It Blog Tour: Evonne Wareham

Evonne Wareham writes romantic thrillers, and is making her debut in the UK with independent publishers, Choc-lit. Today I am lucky enough to welcome Evonne to my blog where she gives me a sneak snippet of Never Coming Home and tells me how she got into writing and her journey to publishing which ended with Choc Lit. Well done Choc Lit Publishers for publishing this book which I will be reviewing next week on this blog: 

Never Coming Home... The ‘Wispa It …’ Blog Tour 

‘Wispa It...’ Snippet No. 6

Kaz gets her first sight of Devlin.
Kaz stepped into the living room. There was a man in the
house. And definitely not from the gas company. Not unless
they were kitting them out in expensive Italian tailoring
these days. Blinking, she took in the tea things on the table.
Her mother was entertaining? Suzanne was fluttering – there
was no other word for it – around a complete stranger. Kaz’s
bewilderment escalated. Suzanne didn’t do fluttering. Mind,
he was some stranger. The sharp lines of the expensive suit
gave one message, the hint of five o’clock shadow another.
There was a lot of him, six foot two at least, with the
shoulders to match. And muscle in all the right places. Too
rugged to be handsome, a touch of Steve McQueen about the
eyes. Fabulous mouth. A face for dreams. Or maybe nightmares.

I’m always interested to hear how other people got into writing.  Some start late, with an idea for a book that won’t leave them alone, others have been writing for as long as they can remember.  Some people strike lucky at their first attempt. For others it takes a while.  I'm one of the ones who began early and took my time. I started when I was in school and have been writing on and off ever since, when life gave me the opportunity.  I drifted in and out of the Romantic Novelists’ Association's New Writers Scheme and learned a lot, but had to put the writing on hold when career and earning a living intervened. I always came back. Maybe writing is an addiction?
I began, like many others, attempting to write for Mills and Boon.  I got as far as a second read in the New Writers Scheme for one of my efforts, submitted half a dozen different manuscripts to Richmond and got some kind and very careful feedback from various editors.  But I clearly didn't have that certain something that makes an M&B author. Once I'd reluctantly reached that conclusion, I looked around for what else I could write.  I experimented.  Oh boy, did I experiment!  Rom coms (not funny), buddy stories where female friends set up business together, historicals -- Regency and Georgian, Heyeresque and Jack Sparrowish (not at the same time).  I spent three very happy years researching and writing a regional family saga set in the Second World War -- it was meant to be the first of a trilogy. It got way too long -- 140,000 words and counting, but I still have hopes that it might one day find a publisher.  I toyed with the idea of taking to crime, but reached the conclusion that I didn't want all the research involved in writing police procedurals.  (There's research and there’s research. Rules of evidence and ranks of police officers didn't appeal.) Along the way I had a go at an amateur sleuth -- a tour guide/house sitter, living in London.  That was fun and got me an honourable mention in the Harry Bowling. As my heroine was fancy free and romance wasn’t the main object of the book, I was able to trifle with the affections of three possible suitors, which made life interesting.
As I’ve said elsewhere, it was the American contests that were the true turning point. I finally knew that romantic suspense was what I really wanted to write. Even so, I had my share of rejections, as it’s not a well known genre in the UK. And then Choc-lit came along.  So, my tip to any aspiring writer would be -- experiment until you find what you absolutely want to write. (Although maybe try to make up your mind a little sooner than I did.)
 And then keep going. 

Thank you to Evonne for taking part in this blog tour and please return next week to see my review of Never Coming Home. 

You can catch up on Evonne's blog tour by clicking the links below:

Friday 3rd FebruarySharon GoodwinJera’s Jamboree
Tuesday 7th FebruaryKath EastmanThe Nutpress
Friday 10th FebruarySue FortinLove Reading Love Books
Tuesday 14th FebruaryCatherine MillerKaty Little Lady
Friday 17th FebruaryDebs CarrDebs Daydreams
Tuesday 21st FebruarySarah BroadhurstSarah’s Book Reviews
Thursday 23rd FebruaryDebs CarrNovelicious
Friday 24th FebruaryElle SymondsTrashionista
Tuesday 28th FebruaryTara ChevresttBook Babe
Friday 2nd MarchLou GrahamLou Graham’s Blog
Wednesday 7th MarchAuthor’s BlogChoc Lit website

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Official Countdown to the London 2012 Games

The Official Countdown to the London 2012 Games

Start the countdown for the greatest sporting event on the planet - the Olympic and Paralympic games! This book will inspire children about the London 2012 Games - the sports, the athletes, the preparations - building excitement in the run up to the Games themselves. Packed with the low-down on Olympic sports and vital must-know facts - plus fun write-in activities, it's a winner.

My children are already talking about the London Olympics this summer and this book will keep them occupied for hours! The book starts right from the beginning, when London found out they had the winning bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The book includes information about both the Olympic and Paralympic games, an important factor, as many books will cover only the Olympics. The book also includes information about the history of the games and the last time London held the games back in 1948, along with many of the Games greatest moments.

There are pages dedicated to the Games' mascots - Wenlock and Mandeville, which were the main characters in a story written by Michael Morpurgo where Wenlock and Mandeville were made from the
 last two drops of steel used to build the Olympic Stadium.

There is an inside look in the Olympic buildings and the village where the athletes will be staying. The organisers of the Games wanted the Games to be sustainable and the book explains how the organisers are ensuring the environment will be protected and green energy will be used throughout the Games.

The book has a time line running throughout the pages of the book, starting from 776BC when the first ever Olympic Games were believed to be held and ends in 2016 when Rio de Janeiro will host the next Olympic Games. 

Many of the sports which are included within the Olympic  and Paralymic Games are included within the book, giving the spotlight to athletes who compete in the sport and their track record in previous games.

It gives children and adults alike a great insight into the Olympic Games but if you want a detailled history of or closer look into some of the new olympic facilities etc it is a great starting point and ideas for future research.

There are fun facts throughout the book along with many facts which will be very useful in pub quizzes for the summer! 

This book would be great for any sports fans this summer but would also make a great addition to any school library this summer.

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

Get Fit for the Games, Every woman's total fitness workout by Peta Bee

London 2012: Get Fit for the Games

The London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are not just events for athletes hoping to win medals, they are also realistic dates by which we can all improve our fitness. "Get fit for the Games" is the official London 2012 book for anyone wishing to improve their levels of exercise and general well-being in the run-up to the Games. Written by leading fitness journalist, Peta Bee, and featuring 70 exercises, the book includes advice on how to get started and is designed around three levels of exercise programme - Bronze, Silver and Gold, each illustrated with specially commissioned step-by-step photographs. The countdown to London 2012 has begun and "Get fit for the Games" gives us all the opportunity to tone up and feel great in time for the world's greatest sporting.

This is an official London 2012 licensed publication. The book has three different exercise programmes detailed within it, and are called Bronze, Silver and Gold, something for everyone!

The book is very clearly laid out and starts right from basics: before any exercise is discussed, there is a section about getting started safely - any health concerns should be checked out before beginning any exercise. Aerobic fitness, strength fitness and stretching and flexibility are explained and the main muscles of the body identified. This section is clearly explained in plain English. All technical terminology is explained in basic terms. The section is completed by a discussion about correct clothing and equipment.

The next section enables you to assess your own fitness level which will enable you to choose the correct workout level for you. The section details a number of exercises to be carried out and the number of repetitions done will enable you to decide which level is right for you. Each exercise/test is clearly written down and also accompanied by photographs which demonstrate the correct position and/ or movement.

Throughout the book there are boxes with Do you know? facts - which includes information about Olympians both past and present and information about muscles of the body, many of which are encouraging while trying to keep (get) fit.

The three exercise programmes are broken into easy steps, with all exercises detailed and accompanied by fantastic photographs. There are tips for if exercises are too easy or too difficult and give lots of encouragement. The end of the chapter also includes a summary of the program, with suggested order of exercises and a gauge of if you are working hard enough?

Throughout the book there are some great ideas for keeping exercise fun and interesting and ways to improve your performance. The book is very motivational and includes ideas and solutions for many different things which could discourage people from exercise. There are lots of photographs to accompany the exercises, but also photographs of former and future Olympians.

There are fantastic exercise programs to follow but also important information about diet and lifestyles to give the full package of ideas and support.

I would recommend this as a great idea for a woman who wanted to get fit, but wanted a plan that they could take at their own pace and do in the comfort and privacy of their own home.

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

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

All the Single Ladies by Jane Costello

All the Single Ladies

Samantha Brooks' boyfriend has made a mistake. One his friends, family,and Sam herself know he will live to regret. Jamie has announced he is leaving, out of the blue. He is loving, intelligent and, while he isn't perfect, he's perfect for her - in every way except one: he's a free spirit. And after six years in one place, doing a job he despises, he is compelled to do something that will tear apart his relationship with Sam: book a one-way flight to South America. But Sam isn't giving up without a fight. With Jamie still totally in love with her, and torn about whether to stay or go, she has three months to persuade him to do the right thing. With the help of her friends Ellie and Jen, she hatches a plan to make him realise what he's giving up. A plan that involves dirty tricks, plotting and a single aim: to win him back. But by the time the tortured Jamie finally wakes up to what he's lost, a gorgeous new pretender has entered Sam's life. Which begs the question ...does she still want him back?

I was only introduced to Jane Costello through her previous book, Girl on the Run, and when I received this book to review, I was eager to get started.  I was not disappointed, a fantastic read, one of those books that you could be laughing out loud one minute and crying the next. One of those books that take you through a full range of emotions but is unputdownable until you get to the end.

The main character is Samantha Brooks and her long term boyfriend, Jamie, has just told her that he wants to split up with her because they want different things - she wants to settle down, get married and have children, while he wants to go travelling again.  Samantha has three months to persuade Jamie that they should be together - but will she manage to persuade him?

There are other subplots throughout the book along with many other great characters! Samantha has some great friends and they play a big part in the book too. One of the subplots within the book is one of Samantha's denial of her alcoholism and Samantha's difficulties in getting her to admit she has a problem - this was tackled sensitively and I am sure this story could of been continued further after this book had ended. 
There is also the story of Samantha's adopted sister, Julia, and her shock at her biological father contacting her out of the blue - this story is one which I found interesting and I enjoyed reading this story, another great idea which worked well throughout the larger story.

Jamie seemed like a lovely man at the start of the book but as I read further my view of him changed and I found myself hoping that Samantha would come to this conclusion too - I won't spoil the story by saying more about this, however it is a great roller-coaster! 

The story also includes Facebook, which Samantha uses to keep 'tabs' on her former partner and also the new man in her life - but as is often the case, beware you don't always like what you discover. 

As with Jane's books, the chapters are very short and it does mean that you can read 'just one more' before putting the book down, however it is very difficult to put down and although it is nearly 500 pages long, it is a relatively quick read. 

I would recommend this book to lovers of chick lit everywhere - be prepared to loose a few evening while you devour it quickly!

Thank you to the publishers, Simon and Schuster, for sending me the book to review.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Horrid Henry's Author Visit by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry's Author Visit - Horrid Henry Early Reader

It is Book Week at Horrid Henry's school, and TJ Fizz, Henry's favourite author in the whole world, is coming in to talk to his class. So he can't believe his rotten luck when he is sent to listen to the Happy Nappy song with the Infants instead. He has to escape - but how?

The Early Reader series from Orion Kids are fantastic - they enable young children who are beginning to gain confidence in reading alone to enjoy reading. Partner this with popular characters such as Horrid Henry and I believe Orion Kids have got a winning partnership!

Horrid Henry is excited because his favourite author is visiting his school. However, Mrs Battleaxe has told the class she will not tolerate any bad behaviour - can Henry manage to behave in order for him to meet T J Fizz?

This is another fantastic book by Francesca Simon. The story was originally included in Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman, but has now been published in the Early Reader format for young readers. The story is intermingled with Tony Ross's illustrations which accompany the story perfectly. The pictures are full of the chaos and mayhem that follows Henry everywhere he goes.

This book would make a great addition to any child's bookshelf and is perfect for young children who are beginning to gain confidence in reading alone.

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

Horrid Henry's Sports by Francesca Simon

A Horrid Factbook: Horrid Henry Sports: Bk. 2 - Horrid Henry

Did you know that the Olympic gold medals are made mostly of silver? What is the world's most popular sport? Did the Romans really do athletics in the nude? Packed with freaky facts and random trivia, this is the perfect guide to everything you ever wanted to know (and lots of things you might never have wanted to know) about the world of sport - Horrid Henry style!

With the London Olympics being held this summer, children are being encouraged to get involved in sports and Horrid Henry is here to help with this book that is full of interesting and useless facts on a range of sports.

My children (aged 7 and 9) both love Horrid Henry books and are constantly choosing them off the shelf and rereading them, therefore it is great to see that new horrid Henry books are being published, and more importantly, are using Henry's popularity to break into the non-fiction market with this range of fact books.

The facts are both interesting and at times useless but great to know for those  quizzes. They are small, bite size pieces of information that children can comprehend easily and will be able to share with others. The facts are all written in simple English and perfect for early readers and more confident readers alike.

I would recommend this book to both Horrid Henry and sports fans alike. A perfect introduction to many sports and a great book to dip into at any time.

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

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Worst Thing About my Sister by Jacqueline Wilson

The Worst Thing About My Sister

Being a sister isn't always easy...but what's the very worst thing about your sister? Marty and her sister Melissa couldn't be more different. Marty loves her Converse trainers, playing football, hiding in her secret den and helping her dad with his DIY. But Melissa loves Justin Bieber and all things pink, girly and pretty. The sisters can manage to live together, despite their occasional scraps but then Mum tells them they have to share a room. For Marty, having to share her bunk beds and lose her private sanctuary turns out to be the very worst thing about having a sister. But the girls soon discover that being too close for comfort can have unexpected consequences, and when an accident happens, the sisters realise they are closer than they thought.

Jacqueline Wilson has done it again! Her new book is brilliantly written and again has a serious message - don't fight with your sister and especially don't push her off the top bunk of bunkbeds. 

As with all of Jacqueline's books, the writing is superb and throughout the story, there are Nick Sharratt's fantastic illustrations which accompany the story perfectly.

The main character is Marty (Martina) who is a tomboy and her sister, Melissa, who is a real girly girl. Due to their mother being given the oppurtunity to set up her own dressmaking business, Marty has to give up her room, Marty's Den, and move in with her sister.

Sibling rivalry is the main theme of the book and while reading it, it was evident that Marty and Melissa were vying for attention and because Marty was not a typical girly girl, she struggled with friendships and also her relationship with her parents, especially her mum. 

I love all of Marty's cuddly toys - her own creations, especially her porcupine, which was a teddy bear with a hairbrush stuck to its back. Marty seems to be very creative and her ideas are throughout the book. Marty 

There is also extra material at the back of the book - reading notes which would be great for children's reading groups or classroom discussions, some of Jacqueline Wilson's favorite children's books which include sisters (there are some fantastic classics included), extracts of two of Wilson's earlier books which include sisters: Double Act and My Sister Jodie, and finally a quiz about her earlier books. 

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

Dirty Bertie Pong!! by David Roberts

Pong! - Dirty Bertie Bk.16

Dirty Bertie - the boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits - is back for another helping of comic chaos! Join Bertie as he attempts to bath a rather smelly Whiffer, gives Miss Boot the fright of her life on a school trip, and enjoys having a sneaky hand in the design for the new school uniform...!

Dirty Bertie is back in another fantastic book - perfect for boys who like to rebel or get into mischief. He is up there with Just William and Horrid Henry in my favourite book characters for boys!

In this book, Bertie's dog Whiffer is living up to his name and seems to be drawn towards cow pats! He stinks the house out at meal time and then again when he is about to compete in a dog show - leaving the judge very unhappy having him in the ring. However, the judge is further annoyed with him when, after she narrows the field down to  three dogs for best in show, a dog biscuit is thrown into the ring and chaos ensues!

There are three stories within the book: Pong! the dog who loves to roll in cow pats; Snore! when Bertie goes on a school trip and is unhappy with his room mates; and Smart! where Bertie's school are tasked with designing their new school uniform. Each story is full of mischief and humour and impossible to read with a straight face throughout.

I recommend this book as perfect for little boys everywhere - great to read to younger children or for 7+ readers to read alone.

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