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Saturday, 28 April 2012

What's For Dinner by Fay Ripley

What's for Dinner?: Easy and Delicious Recipes for Everyday Cooking

Mumsnet Best Cookbook winner, Fay Ripley, is back with a no-fuss collection of simple, tasty recipes to take you from Monday to Sunday with ease. Actress, mum of two and passionate home cook, Fay shares 100 of her favourite tried-and-tested dishes. Whether it is midweek and you need good food fast, want deliciously easy recipes that the whole family can share or are looking for tasty weekend meals that don't require hours in the kitchen, Fay's recipes will hit the spot time and time again. What's for Dinner? includes quick-to-prepare suppers such as Roast Tomato and Prosciutto Penne, one-pot dishes such as Chicken and Squash Traybake, 'don't panic' Corner Shop recipes, easy-peasy baking and puds, effortless Friday-night dinners and Sunday Roasts that will encourage everyone to gather round the kitchen table. All the recipes are accompanied by their own mouth-watering photo and don't require an endless shopping list of unusual ingredients you'll only use once. Instead, these are affordable dishes with easy-to-find ingredients, simple-to-follow methods and plenty of tips for feeding babies, freezing, preparation and cooking times. This is a cookbook that's not only inspiring but genuinely useful. Packed with flavour, down-to-earth advice and wit, Fay's second cookbook shows how easy it can be to enjoy delicious home-cooked food every day.

The book is split into eight chapters: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Weekend, Cornershop and Sides. There are 100 of Fay's favourite, no fuss recipes, which are easy to cook and are tasty, simple food.

Each recipe has a full page, colour photograph of the finished dish. Alongside each recipe are suggested number of servings, preparation time, cooking time and, for those recipes suitable, which are freezable. 

There are many different types of recipes: soups, traditional meals, deserts, accompaniments and a number of recipes suitable for vegetarians. Most of the recipes include ingredients which can be picked up in any supermarket or corner store (especially the chapter entitled corner shop). Most of the recipes could be adapted to include whatever you have in the fridge or cupboard. 

I also found that many of the recipes are simple enough that children could help with the preparation, getting them involved in meal times. The recipes are also ones which children are likely to eat - even the most fussy of eaters.

There are many 'Time Tips' included within the book and recipes - time cutting tips which will assist in any kitchen. There are tips for 'Baby Biz' for families with very small children and other tips including hints for veggies or suggestions of variation of ingredients for many of the recipes within the book.

In summary, I think this is a great cook book that would be useful in any family's kitchen library. There are recipes that all the family will enjoy - whether they are fussy eaters, vegetarians or small ones just beginning to have proper meals.

Thank you to Mumsnet who sent me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

The Ultimate Baby and Toddler Q&A (Netmums)

The Ultimate Baby & Toddler Q&A: Your 50 Most Common Questions Answered

How do I pick him up? Is it OK to bring her into bed with me? Is it OK to give him a dummy? When will she sleep through? When should I start weaning? When will she start crawling? How do I make a start on solids? When will he start talking? When should I start potty training? So many questions for mothers of babies and toddlers - but all the answers are in THE ULTIMATE BABY & TODDLER Q&A, a comprehensive and accessible handbook from Netmums, the fastest-growing online parents' organisation in the UK. This indispensable guide includes hundreds of top tips and suggestions from other mums - it's real advice that really works from real mums who have experienced what you're going through

This is a book that mothers' with newborns could be given and would answer so many of those niggling questions that keep us mums awake at night worrying about. 

There are many questions in the book, which is divided into chapters relating to newborn babies, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, and 12 months +. The questions are by real mums, and so are the answers! There are answers from the net-mums experts as well as some of the net-mums members.

This is the sort of book that can be dipped into at any time and be referred to for advice. There are lots of topics covered, including sleep, bonding, that never ending topic of conversation, poo, post natal depression, feeding, teething to name but a few. 

One of the main things I like about this book is that advice and answers to questions are given by both the experts and by other mothers. Advice from experts are 'normal' in these sort of books, there are many on the market and can give conflicting advice and opinions. However, this book also contains advice from other mothers/carers who have been in the situation, had the motherly instinct, maybe been confused by the conflicting advice - which is best? and gone with their instinct, there are a number of members opinion's given for each question.

Net-mums is becoming a very well known and popular forum, with members or organisers being invited onto television to debate a wide range of topics - this is very similar to the book, drawing on the many differing opinions of its members.

I would highly recommend this book as a great gift for any new mum. It offers support and advice on a wide range of topics that parents and carers are likely to worry over during that first year and beyond.

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

A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell

A Walk in the Park

A sweet, funny and romantic novel from the Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller It's been a while, but Lara Carson's back in Bath and lives are set to change as a result. Because Lara left her family and boyfriend Flynn eighteen years ago without a word to anyone. Why has no one heard from her since? Her childhood best friend Evie is thrilled Lara's back and able to share her happiness. Evie's about to walk down the aisle with her dream man, Joel. Or so she thinks...Then there's Flynn Erskine, even more attractive now and stunned to see Lara again. The spark between them is as strong as ever, but how's Flynn going to react when he discovers the secret she's been keeping from him? Oh yes, there's a lot of catching up to be done...

I had never read any of Jill Mansell's books before being sent To the Moon and Back, which i really enjoyed, and was looking forward to seeing what her next book was like. I have not been disappointed, I have enjoyed reading A Walk in the Park and have found another author who's back catalogue I must read soon.

When Lara Carson returns to her home town following the death of her father, she brings with her a secret she has kept for many years. It is one which will affect others lives too!

I really liked Lara. She had had a difficult life, seemingly thrown out by her father, no one knowing where she had disappeared to and what had become of her. What followed is a great story where family secrets are revealed and people are put in their place in great style.

Mansell has written a book which you can loose yourself in for hours at a time. There are characters which are instantly loved and others which you could never love and hope they will get their just desserts at some point in the book (and most did).

I would recommend this book to any chick lit lovers who enjoy a book that touches on some important topics. It takes you through a wide range of emotions - so get settled in with a glass of wine and some chocolate for a great read!

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

Florence's River Adventures (Bluebell Woods) by Liss Norton

Florence's River Adventure - Bluebell Woods Bk. 5

Welcome to Bluebell Woods, home to a delightful cast of woodland friends. Florence and her friends are walking beside the Babbling Brook when she discovers an old boat tangled up in the reeds. It looks like it's been there a very long time, and Florence suggests that they fix it up so they can sail it. Soon the friends are heading downstream on a river adventure of a lifetime, discovering hidden parts of Bluebell Woods and making new friends. But will they ever resolve the mystery of the boat's original owners?

These books are so pretty! As I have said previously when reviewing earlier books in this series, they remind me of Brambly Hedge. The sketches within the books are beautifully drawn and detail the animals features. I also love the covers of these books - they are like three fold aperture cards, where you look through the window into the cover to see the scene.

This book is about a group of friends who find a boat,which they restore and set sail for an afternoon adventure on the river. 

It is perfect for early readers who have gained confidence in reading alone - I would say age 7+. It is likely to be popular with young girls but with the boat theme, I am sure some boys will also enjoy it.

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

The Village Vet by Cathy Woodman

The Village Vet

In Talyton St George, vet nurse Tessa Wilde is on the way to her wedding .............

It should be the happiest day of her life. But then her car hits a dog, and though the dog is saved thanks to the Otter House vets, her wedding is not.

Animal welfare officer and part-time fire-fighter Jack Miller spends his life saving animals adn people.  As one of Tessa's oldest friends, he feels he has the right to interrupt her wedding and rescue her from a marriage that can only end in tears.

But does he? Tessa is sure she doesn't need rescuing, least of all by Jack.

When they begin to work together at the Animal Rescue centre, however, Tessa begins to wonder whether being rescued by Jack might bot be such a bad thing after all.

I have been a fan of Cathy Woodman since reading her first book, Trust Me, I'm a Vet. In this book the reader was introduced to life in Talyton St George. Woodman has written three books before this one, two books about the veterinary surgery and the third was surrounding the life of a new village member, Jennie Copeland, who began a new carer as a cake maker. 

This book is again set in Talyton St George, but is centred around a different village member, Tessa Wilde. She has links to the veterinary surgery as she covered maternity leave in a previous book.  Tessa has a drama before she gets to the church for her wedding and it doesn't end there!

I really enjoy Woodman's books, the reason being that they are set in one village and although the vet's is the focus for a number of the books, she also writes books about other characters in the village too. Also the characters are in most books - in this book, although Tessa is the main character, Maz the vet and Jennie (the cake baker) also get a mention in this book, along with other village regulars.

The book is a love story but it is not all boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love. There are uncertainties and also some 'shocks' along the way - one which I had my suspicions about early in the book and was proved right later on. 

I recommend this book to all of my followers. It does not matter if you have read any of Woodman's previous books, it can be read as a standalone book or as part of the Talyton St George series. It is a good read, great for the beach, back garden or  curled up in a comfy chair on a Sunday afternoon.

These books are great to read. Lovable characters who you would love to share a village with. I  would love to be Tessa's friend and I am sure I would be on the lookout for abandoned or stray pets if I could be guaranteed Jack coming to collect/rescue them! Jack was a great male lead.

I have just been looking at Amazon and noticed that Cathy Woodman has a new book, City Girl, County Vet, being published in September 2012, and so I am already looking forward to that one too.

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

Friday, 20 April 2012

Phonics - Word Families, three letter words and short vowels

In the news recently, it has been discussed that children may face reading tests as early as age 5 and Top That Publishing have published a new range of 'books' to help children Read, Spell and Learn words. 

This new range of books are very cleverly designed on a spiral bound binding and  have a tent fold in the back cover allowing the book to be stood up on a table. Inside the front cover the pages are split into three sets of flip over pages allowing the children to work with the pages to spell words or create word families.

These books are a great idea and I think they will really help children to learn how to spell short words. Although the children may initially learn how to spell the words by matching the pictures across the three flaps, the repetition will help children to learn. There is a useful page entitled 'Notes for Parents' on the back of the front cover which will give some useful hints and tips for parents.

Each flip book has 20 words or sets of words per book. They are common, high frequency words which the children will be learning at school too. It is a great accompaniment to what the children are doing at school.

I recommend these books as a good idea for Reception age children who are beginning to learn to read and write words and use the phonic system at school.

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

The Great Explorer by Chris Judge

The Great Explorer

When a famous explorer goes missing in the North Pole, his son, Tom, decides he must find him. And so a daring adventure begins across the treacherous icy terrain of the North Pole. Will Tom be able overcome the many challenges ahead and find his father?

This book is perfect for young boys who dream of becoming a great explorer one day. It is about a boy who sets off to rescue his father who has disappeared while on his own adventure.

When I was reading through the book, I was continuously drawn to the beautiful pictures throughout the book and also the ideas and themes covered in the book. The book is set in The North Pole, mentions the Northern Lights, has various methods of transport and includes may animals found at the North Pole. It is for this reason that I think it would be a great book for children to read and then make their own adventures up or extend Tom's adventure. It would make a great book for a class to work with to look at The North Pole as a class theme/topic.

I really do recommend this book to children aged 5-7 years and especially those who dream of going on their own adventure to the North Pole one day.

I received this book as a competition win from the author, Chris Judge, along with two beautiful prints from the book. My review is my honest, unbiased, opinion.

Penguin's Hidden Talent by Alex Latimer

Penguin's Hidden Talent

Penguin would love to take part in the Big Annual Talent Show. But he just can't seem to find his special talent. He tries magic tricks and juggling household appliances - even burping the alphabet...But nothing seems quite right. Can his friends help him discover what he's really good at? This is an even-funnier follow-up to the brilliant Boy Who Cried Ninja. Alex Latimer has created another beautiful, atmospheric world that you long to visit and return to.

Penguins seem to be a very popular with children at the moment and this book is perfect for all penguin lovers! 

The top of the press release says 'A clever, empowering story about finding out what your special skill is.' That sums the book up perfectly. Not everyone needs to be out front, showing off to the crowds, some people need to help out behind the scenes checking that all the cogs are running like a well oiled machine. An important lesson that everyone should learn and remember. 

I think this a great book which I would recommend for children aged 5+. It is suitable for younger children but I think the message is important for older children too.

Thank you to the publishers, Random House Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

My Big Shouting Day! by Rebecca Patterson

My Big Shouting Day

"Yesterday I woke up and Bob was crawling around My Room, licking My Jewellery, so I shouted Get Out Of My Room! and that was the start of My Big Shouting Day..." Bella is having one of those days - her biscuit is broken, she has a hurting foot and ballet is Toooo itchy for words. All she can do is shout! But by the end of the day, when she's all tired out from being shouty, Bella knows there's one magic word and one magic mummy to make things better again...

As an adult I know i have days where nothing goes right - and I would love to have a big shouting day myself, but I know I wouldn't be very popular if I did. However, Bella is only young, and she decides that today would be a big shouting day - however she learns that even when she shouts, she doesn't get what she wants, however her mummy still loves her!

This was a lovely story for young children and I loved all the pictures of Bella - you could see she was not happy, so much expression in the picture.

A great gift idea for any young children who have shouting days.

Thank you to the publisher, Random House Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

The Queen's Knickers by Nicholas Allan

The Queen's Knickers

It's a busy year for the Queen - she has lots of important events to attend. Meanwhile, a little girl is wondering what knickers Her Majesty will choose to wear on a school visit! Will they be her 'at home' knickers - adorned with corgis - or her 'garden party' knickers, or perhaps her woolly Balmoral ones...? Both children and adults will love this very special and endearing insight into a child's imagination, from the best-selling author-illustrator of "Father Christmas Needs A Wee" and "Jesus' Christmas Party". Recently, the Queen visited a nursery in Norfolk and enjoyed a display based on the book: "...just to make it special, there was one element that was not quite so traditional: pants. These were not just any pants, either. They were the Queen's Knickers, and at Dersingham Infant and Nursery School, in Norfolk, they were put on special display in honour of their royal visitor. The Royal Laundry, inspired by "The Queen's Knickers", a children's book by Nicholas Allan, included a washing machine, a line of bloomers...and an array of pants decorated by the children". (Valentine Low, "The Times").

This book was written in 1993, and has been republished and repackaged to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I have never read this book before but I think it is just as funny now as it would have been when originally written.

This book is perfect for a young child - Reception children (age 3-5) will love it. As with anything that mentions pants or knickers, it will get them laughing all through story time. Children seem fascinated by knickers and while reading the story I could imagine my daughter at that age wondering the same question 'just what knickers does the queen wear for special occasions?'

The story is accompanied by fantastic, child like illustrations, which tell the story perfectly. The pictures will grab young children's attention and will have them laughing as they see all the different patterns and styles of knickers the Queen may own! 

I think this is a great book for children this Jubilee year and would make a great gift or addition to a class book corner.

Thank you to the publishers, Random House Children's Books, for sending me the review.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Wearable Vintage Fashion by Jo Waterhouse and Clare Bridge

Wearable Vintage Fashion

'Wearable Vintage Fashion' presents desirable, affordable and accessible vintage clothing and accessories in a new and fun format. Covering the looks of the twentieth century from the 20s to the 80s, this insiders' guide will feature the clothing, accessories and styling to recreate the looks of each decade. By presenting timeless, classic vintage pieces, the items will always be stylish regardless of the era they came from or the fashion trend of the moment. The book will, therefore, serve as a visual reference guide to collecting as well as wearing classic vintage clothing. Vintage dressing is very much a current fashion trend with lots of people shopping for affordable vintage clothing and trying to recreate vintage looks by mixing new and old. The authors show the reader how to put the clothing and accessories together to create that period look whether for daywear or eveningwear. In addition to interviews with collectors and the story behind their collections, the authors look at vintage street fashion from around the world: showing members of the public combining vintage with their everyday fashion.

I opened this book and immediately fell in love with it. The book takes you down the fashionable memory lane from 1920's through to the 1980's.

I have been into the shop that the authors Jo Waterhouse and Clare Bridge run in Worcester, Secondhand Rose and this book is full of the enthusiasm and vitality that the shop is known for. 

In the introduction, Jo and Clare state that they wanted to create a book that 'will guide you through affordable, collectible and wearable items that you can own too, whatever your budget' and I think that this book fulfils that aim confidently.  They go on to say that they have picked out key pieces from each decade - recognising the trends and looking at both day and night wear alongside with those very important accessories that finish any item off perfectly.

The book has lots of photographs - be they photos of clothes from the decade, photographs from the time, or photographs of modern women wearing authentic clothes.

The book is split into seven decades: 1920s; 1930s; 1940s; 1950s; 1960s; 1970s; and 1980s. Each decade has its own colour  coded section which includes day wear, key pieces, get the look, icons (and how to recreate their style), a look book of key pieces for both day and night wear. At the start of each chapter there is a short introduction highlighting the main fashions of the decade.

The book concludes with a chapter featuring lots of different people wearing vintage clothes and making their own style using them - there are people from all over the world featuring in this chapter, of all shapes and sizes showing vintage suits anyone!

I really enjoyed looking through this book. The sections were well planned out with most of the page content being photographs. The text was short and to the point and allowed the photographs to tell the story.

I especially liked the last chapter of 'real people' wearing vintage fashion and will be visiting a lot of their blogs and websites which are included alongside their photographs.

This book has the potential to encourage many more people to embrace vintage fashion and will be looking out on the streets of Worcester for new vintage lovers! It gives lots of ideas of styles to try - one thing I really like from this book is all the ideas for accessories from the decade. A good accessory can finish off an outfit perfectly.

I recommend this as a great gift for a lover of vintage fashion but I also believe that this will make a fantastic coffee table book idea for anyone who loves fashion in general. The book would also make a great resource for any fashion students or anyone interested in looking at the history of clothing.

If you are ever in Worcester, I recommend a visit to Secondhand Rose in their new premises. It is a fantastic shop!

I received this book from the publishers, Vivays Publishing, in return for an honest review. I do not know the authors personally and my review is my own thoughts on a fantastic book. Thank you to the Publishers for sending me the book.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual

It's a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen knew more about marriage than anyone else. (Never mind that she never got married herself...) It's in the midst of the recession when Kate, a freelance journalist and self-professed Jane Austen addict, finds herself single, unemployed and soon-to-be homeless (not to mention about to turn 40). In desperation she accepts a writing assignment to prove a theory that in the toughest economic times a wealthy man is the only must-have accessory. So, with just Jane Austen's advice for company, she sets off to see if Mr Rich can ever become Mr Right. Her mission takes her to Palm Beach, St Moritz and London. Where, in keeping company with the elite, she meets billionaires, oil tycoons, and generally men who make Mr Darcy look like an amateur. But will rubbing shoulders with men of good fortune ever actually lead her to love?

This is the debut novel by Kim Izzo. I was taken by this book as soon as I saw the cover - it is beautiful,simple and perfect! 

I am a fan of Jane Austen and love Austen inspired novels. I have been really enjoying Victoria Connelly books  and so was interested to see what other authors do with this genre.

This book starts on Kate's wedding day as an introduction to the book, before the story starts properly, some six months earlier. I like this idea, giving a insight into how the story plays out, but this story isn't as simple as that. There are so many twists and turns in this book and I was never sure how the story would end but I loved the ending and I think the best man won Kate's heart!

Kate has a bad time at the start of the book, fails to secure another contract for temporary work, looses a very close family relative and her home within a very short time. That is when she takes on an assignment - to write an article about marrying a rich man and decides to take Jane Austen as her inspiration! What follows is an adventure which leads to her leaving her mother and sister and travelling to Palm Beach, St Moritz and London. She has a roller coaster of emotions throughout the book but never looses sight of her goal - to marry a rich man, but her chosen man, is he all that he seems?

There are many Austen similarities within the book and I loved the quotes from Austen's many pieces of work at the start of each chapter. Izzo has taken a great idea and produced a fantastic read. However you do not need to be an Austen fan to enjoy this book

I really enjoyed this book and I am definitely looking forward to seeing what Kim Izzo comes up with next and I hope her next book is as fantastic as this one!

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

The Runaway Actress by Victoria Connelly

The Runaway Actress

When the stresses of being an A-list actress get too much for her, Connie Gordon decides to escape to a tiny Scottish village. But little does she realise that whilst Lochnabrae might be quiet, it's far from sleepy! Beautiful, rich, famous -- and seriously stressed, actress Connie Gordon is ready for a change. Deciding to accept an invitation from her fan club in Scotland, Connie kisses goodbye to her ex-boyfriends, stalkers and double-crossing agents, and prepares herself for complete relaxation. But swapping the Hollywood Hills for the Highlands of Scotland doesn't make for the easiest of transitions and, when she meets local playwright, Alastair McInnes, who's sworn he'll never become involved with another actress again, sparks fly, and the sleepy village of Lochnabrae will never be the same again. Get your running shoes on to catch the latest hilarious, charming and utterly engaging novel from Victoria Connelly, chick-lit's answer to Richard Curtis!

I really enjoyed this book. I have been a fan of Victoria Connelly's since reading her first two published books about Jane Austen addicts. I was also lucky enough to meet her at last years Worcestershire Literary Festival when she gave a fantastic talk about her journey to published books.

This book however, is a completely different theme to her previous books, and is another great read. The main character is Connie Gordon, an actress who, after an unplanned run in with an ex boyfriend, which the press immediately jumped on, at a glamorous and glitzy Hollywood award show decides to pack a suitcase and visit a small Scottish village which has it's own Connie Gordon fan club.

I thought that this was a great idea for a book. There seems to be no lengths that a photographer/reporter  won't go to to get a story and I am sure that alot of these people who live their lives in the public spotlight, would love to be able to pack a suitcase and disappear for a month or two. However, I am sure most people would disappear to somewhere hot, secluded and very expensive - not a cold and wet Scottish village - fantastic idea Victoria!

As with Victoria's previous books, this is a fantastic read. I love her writing style and was able to loose myself in the book, while curled up in an evening and finished the book quickly. 

I really liked the characters in the book and would love to visit Isla's bed and breakfast and visit the local pub for a drink - it sounds like a great place to meet in an evening for a book club or a quick drink. 

There is, of course, a love story in the story and it was one which  was very believable. I will not spoil the story here but I was really pleased with the ending to the story.

In summary, it is a great read and I recommend it to all of my blog followers. A great chick lit read which can be added to any holiday suitcase or garden patio table this summer!

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

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Fiona Walker Giveaway Winners

My giveaway closed yesterday and using a random number generator the following followers have won a copy of Love Letters by Fiona Walker:

  1. SusanD1408 crochet addict
  2. Lou Graham
  3. Lindsay
  4. Mama J
  5. MemybooksandI
Please could all winners email me their postal address to and I will pass the details on to the publishers, Sphere, who will send the books out to you all.

Thank you to all for entering my book giveaway and please call back soon for more giveaways.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Heels on Wheels, A lady's guide to owning and riding a bike by Katie Dailey

Heels on Wheels: A Lady's Guide to Owning and Riding a Bike

Learning to ride a bike is easy, but getting back on one if you're over the age of 12 -- and have developed a penchant for high heels -- can be a daunting task. In Heels on Wheels Katie Dailey offers sage advice to the modern gal who would like to get back in the saddle after a short (or very long) hiatus, Find out how to choose your trusty steed, stay safe on the road, fix a puncture and select the best lock for your bicycle. As well as this, more pressing issues are covered, including how to combat helmet hair, wearing a skirt without losing your dignity, and all the exciting things you can buy to pimp your ride. So whether you plan on being a weekend cruiser, or a riding-in-all-elements fanatic, Heels on Wheels will make you fall in love with cycling at over again.

I was drawn to this book by its gorgeous cover - of vintage style and in dusky tones of green, pink and beige. When I received the book I was very happy to see that this style was continued throughout the book. The layout of the book reminds me of a scrapbook.

There are six chapters/sections to the book: Getting Started; How to Incorporate Cycling into your Lifestyle; Cycling Safely; Parking (Or, How to Ensure Your Bike Isn't Stolen); Just One Last Question ...; and Bike Maintenance. The book looks at the many styles of bike: would it be best to have a skinny tyred road bike, a shopper or a racing style bike? Which style saddle? are just a few of the questions answered in this book.

I must admit when I first saw this book I thought that this would be a tongue in cheek book about women and bikes, however I was very pleasantly surprised to see that it was a very informative book that  would make a great gift for any lady who has or is thinking of buying themselves a bicycle. 

This book would make a great coffee table book, or a stocking filler for any ladies or young girls who are bike lovers.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine programme.

Rascal and the Wedding (My Naughty Little Puppy) by Holly Webb

Rascal and the Wedding - My Naughty Little Puppy Bk. 8

When Ellie names her puppy Rascal, she doesn't realize how right she is ...The playful little puppy is soon getting into all sorts of trouble! Ellie and her sister are going to be bridesmaids for their Auntie Gemma. Rascal is very curious about the wedding preparations and wants to get involved. Ellie would love for him to be part of her auntie's Big Day, too, but Lila and Auntie Gemma aren't sure. Will Rascal be able to stay on his best behaviour long enough to get himself an invite?

Another great book by Holly Webb. I have reviewed a number of titles from this series and they are all as good as the previous one, if not better.

In this installment, Ellie's auntie is getting married but has not invited Rascal, but Rascal being Rascal, he has to get in on the action and nibbles mum's fascinator and squashed Ellie's posy - what will she hold when walking down the aisle now?

The story is great, perfect for little girls, but I also want to say that I love the illustrations by Kate Pankhurst, she has captured Rascals cheekiness perfectly.

This book will be loved by Holly Webb's huge fan base and anyone who likes reading stories about naughty puppies! 

Well done Holly Webb, looking forward to reading what Rascal gets up to next.

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

Bat and Rat by Patrick Jenning

Bat and Rat

The urban Frog and Toad, Bat and Rat are two best friends in the city. Together, these nocturnal pals play in a jazz band and enjoy their favourite things: like dumpster diving in Chinatown (Rat is a rat, after all...). One hot summer night, they have a little adventure while going out for an ice cream cone and come up with the inspiration for the perfect new tune that is a testament to their friendship. Written in a gentle, sweet style reminiscent of Arnold Lobel and Patrick McDonnell Bat and Rat captures the tenderness of classic while giving them a modern twist.

This is a picture story book that I would recommend for older children, age 7+. It is a book which has some Americanisms in, however these are few and far between.

The story is good, and is one which children will enjoy - full of ice cream!  There is also a Bat, very popular with vampires etc in The Twilight Saga. 

The illustrations are sketchy and cartoon like - very cleverly drawn. 

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

Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon

Croc and Bird

Side by side on the sand sat two eggs. With a crack and a rip, the brothers hatch, and out comes a bird and a ...crocodile! But they can't be brothers - can they?

This is a beautiful book, one to be stored on a bookcase and bought at to share at story or bedtime while cuddled up. 

The story is of two eggs which hatch side by side, a crocodile and a bird, who live together as brothers and grow up together until they meet other crocodiles and birds and realise they are not true brothers. They live with their own for a while but soon realise that they are happier when they are together, as brothers!

I must admit, crocodiles are not my favourite animal, they scare me a little. However, this baby crocodile is fairly cute. 

The illustrations are gorgeous - hand drawn and tell the story perfectly, and with the added words it is a beautiful gift to give to a child. 

Thank you to the publishers, Random House Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

The Queen by Richard Brassey

The Queen: Diamond Jubilee Book

Between April and July 2012, extensive celebrations will celebrate the diamond jubilee of the Queen's reign. Following the approach of NESSIE (sales approaching 250,000 copies) and GREYFRIARS BOBBY (100,000 copies sold), Richard Brassey provides insight into the life of the woman who soon will be our longest-reigning monarch - with fun facts, hilarious anecdotes and fascinating info!

Looking at the front cover and then flicking through the pages it was quick to see that this was a very different book to the Ladybird book I have recently reviewed to celebrate the same occasion - the Queen's Diamond Jubilee! 

There are no photographs in this book, instead pictures are drawn. The drawings are not caricatures or cartoons, but a combination of the two - very cleverly drawn.  

There are lots of facts included in the book about the Queen's life and reign but intermingled within these are lots of useless facts - who knew that at her christening, she had to be given lots of gripe water to stop her crying or that when her parents went on a tour of Australia, she stayed with her grandparents and their pet parrot, Charlotte. Great for those quiz lovers to learn these little known facts.

The book is written as a story but is very fact heavy and is a good introduction for children to the life of The Queen. There are lots of personal, little known facts in the book which will appeal to children - names of pets, tales from school and her romance with Prince Phillip.

This is a great book. I have read many books about The Queen but this book is different, perfect for children as an introduction for further reading. There are a lot of facts and highlights from her life both before and during her reign as the British Monarch. 

I recommend this as a great gift for this Diamond Jubilee year and would make a great addition to any school library.

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Running for Gold by Owen Slot

Running for Gold

Everyone knows Danny Powell was born to run. But no one knows Danny dreams of beating the fastest man on the planet. Until one day Danny accidentally lets it slip, and that's it. His ambition is out there - and everyone's laughing at him. Except, what if Danny could be the next 100m world champion? With the Olympic Games on his doorstep, there's only one way to find out. Will Danny's family and friends cheer him over that finishing line - and watch his dream come true?
  • From an award-winning chief sports reporter for The Times. Owen will be reporting on the Olympics for The Times, lending even more authority as the author of this series in the lead-up to the Games.

  • The 100m mens final is the one of the most popular Olympic events, and Running for Gold features non-fiction facts and figures woven into an inspiring fictional story.

  • With England hosting The Olympic Games 2012, we are all embracing Olympic fever and there are many books being published around the games and sport in general.

    Running for Gold is about a young boy who is at the top of his sport in Junior leagues and has now set his heart on reaching The Olympics and racing against Usain Bolt.

    The story is one which young children will be able to relate to. There are many children who want to become top athletes. football stars or other sport stars and this book shows that with hard work and dedication there is opportunities for all. 

    The story has two main parts: the first being Danny's fight to qualify for The Olympics and the second story is one which I think is more important - Danny suffers a major upset in the games and his whole world collapses around him but he manages to overcome this and the result is fantastic!

    I think that this book is one which upcoming wannabee sports stars of all ages should read - it is one which shows that through hard work and dedication that   dreams can be realised. Also there is the message that in times when everything goes wrong for you, to get yourself back up and try again.

    This book would be great for sports loving kids and would make a great addition to any school library.

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

    IOU by Helen Warner


    Amy has enjoyed a charmed life, shopping and lunching while the nanny looks after her children. Until her world is thrown into disarray when husband Ben's business collapses overnight, taking their house and savings with it. Suddenly Amy finds herself the breadwinner. Can she rise to the challenge? Will her marriage survive such an upheaval? Or is it a case of 'Till Debt Do Us Part'? Kate has always had to struggle by, juggling her job with two children and a husband, though she wouldn't have it any other way. But her safe little world is rocked when she meets enigmatic Jack in a chance encounter. Feeling increasingly estranged from husband Miles, Kate wonders if Jack can offer her a fresh start. But there's something about Jack that Kate doesn't know...Jennifer is only just beginning to recover from the death of her own husband. When Jennifer makes contact with old flame Hugh she unlocks a dangerous Pandora's box. She is desperate to find the answer to a question that has tormented her for decades. But will she be able to cope with the truth?

    I really enjoyed Helen Warner's first book, RSVP, and so when I saw that Warner had a new book out, I was very keen to read this one and I was not disappointed.

    The story follows three ladies, a mother and her two daughters, who each have a life changing situation to cope with. They are a close family but each had their separate lives, with their own highs and lows. The book followed each of their stories which were cleverly intertwined to create a fantastic read which is a feel good book but also one which I think is relevant to today's society.

    The book is another of those that send you through a full range of emotions - there are times for tears and also for laughter. Warner touches on mental health issues and I think it has been handled sensitively, highlighting the journey the whole family go through in this situation.

    I would recommend this book to lovers of chick lit and family stories.

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

    Run Rabbit Run by Kate Johnson

    Run Rabbit Run

    Sophie's in trouble. Must be Tuesday. Sophie Green's an ex-spy, or trying to be. You wouldn't believe the trouble she's in. An MI5 officer has been shot with her gun, her fingerprints all over his office. And no, she didn't kill him. But she has gone on the run. Now Sophie's desperately seeking whoever's trying to frame and kill her. She's being forced to work with the least trustworthy man in Europe, MI5 is following her every move, and she's had to leave the tall, blond, god of a man she loves behind. Luke Sharpe works for MI6. Or did, until his girlfriend became a murder suspect. Doing nothing wasn't an option, so he started investigating. Who cares if it means jeopardising his career? Sophie's everything he used to say he never wanted. Young, irresponsible, bright and mad. Now she's just everything - and she has to live. She will live, won't she?

    This is the second book by author Kate Johnson. I will admit I wasn't overly keen on her first book that I read, The Untied Kingdom, but I was very interested in this book after reading the synopsis. One of my favourite television programmes was Spooks and so anything with MI5 in would be something I would pick up.

    The main character, Sophie, is an ex spy, who has been accused of killing an MI5 officer - she didn't and she is determined to find out who did and why she was framed for the murder. Along the way she has to remain free from arrest which is difficult when MI5, MI6 and the CIA are on her tail. However, Sophie is such a disaster magnet that it is surprising she remains on the run for so long.

    I really enjoyed this book, there were twists and turns throughout. Although the reader could not really try and solve the mystery themselves because the clues were not in the text, the chase and intrigue kept me going through the book. Johnson's writing is brilliant, fast paced and one that keeps you guessing to the end.

    Since finishing this book I have found that this is actually book 5 in the Sophie Green mysteries and I will be reading the back catalogue to find out the back story of the characters and the chaotic world she lives in. The book can be read as a standalone novel and I did not think I was missing anything by not reading the previous four books before this one.

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

    Monday, 2 April 2012

    Book GIveaway - Fiona Walker - The Love Letter

    As I posted on Friday, Fiona Walker is releasing her new novel next month and those lovely people at Sphere Books are allowing me to giveaway 5 copies of the book on my blog. To be in with a chance of winning a copy: 

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

    Winners will be drawn at 6pm on Wednesday 11th April 2012 and the books will be posted out by the publisher. 

    The Love Letter

    Can fate be signed, sealed and delivered? When Allegra North parted from first love Francis after a decade together, she poured all her regret into a letter. He didn't reply. A year later, her job brings her back to the beautiful Devon coast where romance first blossomed and she hopes that they can start a new chapter. As summer storms circle, the exes juggle rebellious parents, vengeful family members and a very reluctant celebrity author who holds the key to every body's future ...The Love Letter is a wonderfully warm comedy of mistaken identities, new loves and old flames.

    Good luck to you all and thank you to Sphere Books for the giveaway opportunity.