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Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson

The Rose Petal Beach
Every love story has a dangerous twist. Tamia Challey is horrified when her husband, Scott, is accused of something terrible - but when she discovers who his accuser is, everything goes into freefall. Backed into a corner and unsure what to think, Tamia is forced to choose who she instinctively believes. But this choice has dire consequences for all concerned, especially when matters take a tragic turn. Then a stranger arrives in town to sprinkle rose petals in the sea in memory of her lost loved one. This stranger carries with her shocking truths that will change the lives of everyone she meets, and will once again force Tamia to make some devastating choices...

When I pick up a Dorothy Koomson book, I know that I am getting a brilliant read. Koomson has 'invented' a new genre, emotional thrillers, and her books are a roller coaster of emotions which always have a very clever twist at the end, one which the reader can never predict, but one which finishes the story perfectly, every time!

This book is a fantastic read, one which had me hooked from page one and left me wanting to read just one more chapter each night. Koomson's chapters are written from the point of view of one of the three main characters in the book; Tamia, Beatrix and Fleur. There are many different topics touched upon in this book and I found that Koomson tackled each one with sensitivity and I feel that they were all linked into the storyline effortlessly.

The story starts with a usual evening at the Challey household, until the doorbell rings. The police enter and arrest her husband. It is not until the next day that Tamia finds out what her husband has been charged with and that is when her life crumbles. The story gathers pace throughout the book and all is not as it seems. It is a typical Koomson and even though some twists can be guessed, there is no way I saw the ending coming - it hits with a punch and I was no way disappointed at the end, other than there is at least another 12 months wait until Koomson's next release.

Since Dorothy's last book she has moved publishers and is now at Quercus Books. Along with this move, her books have been given a different cover design style, and this one is beautiful, not giving away anything about the storyline but draws you towards it from the bookshelf, willing you to pick it up and read it.

Koomson did a nationwide book tour around the time this book was released and I was lucky enough to get to see her in Birmingham, where she did a question and answer session with one of the Birmingham Central Library team and also invited questions from the audience. It was well worth the hour long journey there and back to see her, Dorothy is a very funny lady and immediately had the audience's attention and interacted with us all throughout the hour long talk. She talked about her first book to have been purchased for dramatisation (although there is alot of change to the storyline which I am not sure she is too happy with) and about her inspiration for books. The audience asked for any hints about her next book, but Dorothy gave nothing away although I could tell there were many audience members who could not wait for it to hit the book shelves next year.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tommy Cooper 'Jus' Like That!' By John Fisher

Tommy Cooper 'jus' Like That!': A Life in Jokes and Pictures
For the first time, Tommy Cooper's biographer, writer and producer, John Fisher, collects between two covers the cream of the comedian's personal archives, with photographs, memorabilia and documents that have never been seen before. Had Cooper kept a scrapbook, this is what he would have produced. Souvenirs from his many stage and television triumphs jostle side by side with candid shots of him at play with his family, many revealing a side to the man the public never really saw. Here is the authentic side of Tommy in the forces, the early show business struggle, the backstage world of his magic, the newspaper coverage of the most recognisable man in Britain, the crazy japes at home with wife Gwen, and so much more. This book, with its brilliant colour images and hilarious text, puts the successive stages of Tommy's life in full context. And if you don't want to follow his life in biographical detail, just sit back and relax by laughing at the many jokes that crowd the pages. They tell their own story!

I am not a fan of Tommy Cooper however I have family members who are fans and this would make a perfect Christmas present for many of them.

This book looks like a Tommy Cooper fan's scrapbook - jam packed full of programme covers, publicity posters, photographs,newspaper clippings, all annotated to include Tommy Coopers thoughts etc at the time.

This would make a great Christmas gift for any Tommy Cooper fans this festive period and will be a walk down memory lane through Tommy's career.

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

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb

The Paper Dolls
A string of paper dolls go on a fantastical adventure through the house and out into the garden. They soon escape the clutches of the toy dinosaur and the snapping jaws of the oven-glove crocodile, but then a very real pair of scissors threatens. A stunning, rhythmical story of childhood, memory and the power of imagination from the author of THE GRUFFALO, and new illustrating talent Rebecca Cobb.

This is the new release by popular children's author Julia Donaldson. I loved this book as soon as I saw the front cover and when I read it, I was even more in love with it.

The story is about a set of paper dolls that a child and her mother made, a lovely tradition in those old fashioned crafts to do on a rainy afternoon. It is a lovely book that will ignite any little (or big) girls imagination and as happens at the end of book, a pastime that can be passed from mother to daughter.

It is written in Julia Donaldson's legendary rhyme and repetition that will soon be imprinted into the readers brain, allowing little ones to join in with the story telling. The illustrations are drawn by Rebecca Cobb and look to be crayon illustrations that add to the nostalgic appeal of the book.

I would recommend this book as the perfect book for a mother and daughter to share and to find themselves a new pastime to while away the hours on a rainy afternoon.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Great Granny Gang by Judith Kerr

The Great Granny Gang
Here comes the fearless granny gang, The youngest eighty-two. They leap down from their granny van, And there's nothing they can't do! A gleeful celebration of why grannies are great! Through wonderfully rhythmical writing and exquisite illustrations, Judith Kerr shows us that there is a lot more to this gang of grey-haired grannies than meets the eye! Full of charm and laugh-out-loud fun, this is a must for every child's bookshelf.

I have found memories of Judith Kerr books, my childhood favourites included 'The Tiger who came to Tea' and when this book arrived on my doormat I was very interested to explore this story too!

The story is written in Kerr's fantastic rhyming prose and is filled with plenty of humour and I am sure that story time will be very interesting while children see which granny looks like their own throughout this hilarious story! While reading the story I was reminded of that group of 'golden oldies' on last year's Britains Got Talent with the gold medallions singing and rapping.

As with previous Kerr books, this story is accompanied by beautifully drawn illustrations, each would make a lovely picture to hang on a child's wall, and together they make this book a beautiful gift to give from  Grandmother to child or vice versa to share at those special story times.

I would recommend this as the perfect Christmas gift to give this Christmas.

Thank you to the publishers,  Harper Collins Children, for sending me this book to review.

Discover London by Jacqui Bailey

Discover London!
This popular London guide has been fully updated for the 2012 Olympics. A lavishly illustrated and comprehensive guide to England's capital city for children - giving its history and geography and recommending the best places to visit from Royal Palaces and parks to museums and galleries. Packed with suggestions for fun days out and making the most of a family visit to London.

This is a great, easy to read, book for children who want to learn about London. Whether it is a school project on either the history of or the tourism of London, this is the perfect book for children aged 7+.

The book begins with the history of London and the time line begins in 50 AD, when the Romans built Londinium and finishes in 2012 when London played host to The Olympic Games. There are lots of facts throughout the book, lots within the text but many have been highlighted in boxes throughout the book.

This is also marketed as a tourism book and the book has all the main sights within London included. The book also cleverly has, for each attraction, details of the closest bus, tube and rail station stop while travelling around the city.

The book has a scrap book feel to it and each page has lots of photos, pictures, text and info boxes on each page and attention is immediately drawn to the double page spreads.

The book focuses not only on tourist hot spots, but includes parks, markets and theatres. There is a section on events held during the year in London and a simplified guide to travelling around the city which I would find very useful, although this information is a little dated talking about travel cards and no mention of Oyster Cards.

I would recommend this book as a great gift for a child who has a visit to London planned or is interested in England's Capital City.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Guest Post - Jane Sanderson, Ravenscliffe Blog Tour

Today I am delighted to welcome Jane Sanderson to my blog, on the launch of her new book, I was interested to find out how she finds inspiration for her books and how  her third book is coming along.

Writing fiction is such a curious pastime. I sit at my desk for long hours, chew my pen, stare out of the window, and make things up. What’s more, the things – or, more specifically, the people – that I invent begin to seem more real than reality; the cast of characters in Netherwood or Ravenscliffe populate my head, and follow me even when I’m not writing, distracting me from the details of daily life so that I end up putting the iron away in the fridge, or driving away from home with my handbag on top of the car.
            At the moment, the publishing cycle being as it is, I’m half way through a third book before my second has quite hit the bookshelves, so therefore I have brand new characters rubbing shoulders with the old. And what I’m finding is just what I found before: some characters are so strong and compelling that they take me by the hand and lead me forwards.
            This is another example of the curious nature of writing fiction. Just because I’m the author, doesn’t mean I always know what to say; however, there’s always a character able to help.  When I wrote Netherwood, for example, I found that Anna Rabinovich could always get me out of a corner. If I was absolutely stuck, or my writing seemed leaden, or a plot line implausible, I would bring Anna in, and she showed me the way. In Ravenscliffe, Lady Henrietta Hoyland fulfilled the same role, along with Amos Sykes. (Interestingly, they were both in Netherwood, but they weren’t nearly so obliging then, for some mysterious reason.) In my latest book, I have a wonderful new character called Ruby Donaldson, who has picked up the baton as chief trouble-shooter. I had a great day’s writing yesterday, and it was all thanks to Ruby.
            Before I became a novelist, I would have scoffed at this. What nonsense, I would have said: a character is only as good as the writer who created it. Of course, to a point, this is true. But at the same time, and just as in real life, some fictional people are bigger personalities than others, with thoughts and ideas that flow more willingly through my fingers and on to the page. These characters take up residence in my head, and when I finally write The End, I endure a brief period of mourning that I’m no longer by their side, watching their every move. It’s one of the reasons that I quickly start work on the next book in the series – I miss the company of my fictional friends. The sooner I’m back in the swing, the better for all of us.
            Right now, they’re calling me back to my half-finished manuscript, where Ruby and Eve Williams – ah, lovely Eve! –  are about to become acquainted. I actually feel excited, as if I’m introducing two of my dear friends to each other for the first time. Hope they like each other. I fell asleep last night thinking about their conversation, and woke up this morning doing the same.
            My poor husband and children are playing second fiddle to a cast of fictional characters, and there’s nothing either they or I can do about it. Oh well. I have to say, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, back to work. 

Thank you very much Jane, for taking time to visit my blog. I will be reading Ravenscliffe very soon and will be including my review here too.

Ravenscliffe by Jane Sanderson is published as paperback original by Sphere on the 27th September 2012, £6.99


The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson

The Highway Rat
'Give me your buns and your biscuits! Give me your chocolate eclairs! For I am the Rat of the highway, and the Rat Thief never shares'! Life is not safe for the other animals, as the villainous Highway Rat gallops along the highway, stealing their food. Clover from a rabbit; nuts from a squirrel - he even steals his own hose's hay. Will he finally meet his comeuppance, in the form of a cunning duck? This is a fabulous, rollicking rhyme, in the style of the famous Alfred Noyes poem, "The Highwayman", from the authors of "The Gruffalo" and "Zog".

Julia Donaldson is back with another fantastic read for children of all ages. Full of rhyming prose, which are accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Axel Scheffler, this book is sure to become a story time favourite this year.

there is of course a message behind the story - this one being not to steal from others because it can come back to haunt you! It has been inspired by the poem, "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes and is told in a very child friendly way which will have children reciting the prose very quickly. I am sure this book will become as popular as The Gruffalo very soon.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.