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Friday, 30 March 2012

Ladybird Souvenir: HM Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee

HM Queen Elizabeth II: Diamond Jubilee

This is a very special "Ladybird" souvenir edition to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen's 60-year reign has seen many changes but her reputation as the world's most famous and beloved monarch continues to this day. Read about her early childhood, coronation, family life, and the way she has shaped the modern monarchy over the last sixty years. There are also fascinating facts about the number of Prime Ministers and leaders she's known, all the countries visited, her official portraits and more.

I have collected many of the Ladybird souvenir books of the Royal Family and when Ladybird sent me their souvenir book to celebrate The Wedding of Prince William and Katherine I was disappointed to find the format had changed. However, when i received this book I was pleased to find that they had returned to the traditional format and I will be displaying this book on my shelf along with my other first editions.

The book begins with the Windsor family tree and includes all the current royal family (except the latest addition to Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly's family born today, Isla Phillips). 

The book details the Queen's life from the very beginning, a princess who, when born, was not expected to be Queen, until her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry the divorcee, Wallis Simpson, and the crown passed to his brother, King George VI.

The book touches on many of the highlights in her life: her wedding; her coronation; her children; her work around the world; the recent royal weddings and her jubilee year.

There are brief descriptions of the Queen's life and also includes many beautiful photos depicting many highlights from her life so far.

This book would be a lovely keepsake for children of all ages and would be a great introduction into the life of our Queen.  I would recommend this as a lovely gift and also a great addition to any school or class library.

Thank you to Ladybird for sending me the book to review and for also reversing back to the traditional format for this souvenir book.

A Waste of Good Paper by Sean Taylor

A Waste of Good Paper

The story of Jason, a boy at Heronford School for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. The journal tells of the comic and sometimes uncomfortable day to day events at the school, with Jason, his teachers and classmates. And it explores his family life with his mother, who has recently given up taking heroin, and her violent, drug-taking ex-boyfriend, who returns unexpectedly. And then there is the storyteller who works at the school. He tells the boys the Russian folktale of a young man with a faithful horse, who overcomes a manipulative king. Jason is searingly, touchingly honest about his life and relationships, and through his journal he begins to reach an understanding of himself. This is a brilliant debut teenage novel, to be compared with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

This book is Jason's diary, where he is able to write down his real feelings and thoughts and also his secrets, which he does not feel he should share with anyone. Jason was given the book by a teacher at his school, a book where he could write something in it everyday. Jason did not like this idea, he thought it a waste of paper! However, Jason soon finds this book to be his place to record his thoughts and worries. 

There are parts of this book that I found eye opening and thought provoking. Jason is a child with behavioural issues who also has issues at home. His mum is trying to keep a roof over their bed, a recovering heroin addict, who is trying to keep on the straight and narrow but the reappearance of an old boyfriend who is a heroin dealer makes things difficult. Jason is afraid of the ex boyfriend, who in the past has asked Jason to run a few 'errands' for him and scares Jason into doing as he wants - however one time he says no, stands up to him and takes control.

Jason's teacher gives him a notebook which he wants Jason to write in as a journal. He wants Jason to write anything he wants in the book and Jason slowly begins to use the book to write about his day and his experiences. The book is this journal - and the publishers have very cleverly made the pages look like a notebook, with ruled lines and a font very similar to handwriting.

At times this book can be hard hitting and hard to read but it is also a book which should be read by both children and adults alike, to find out how difficult it can be for a child in Jason's situation to adapt to life and also cope in day to day life.

I would say that it is suitable for older children 12+ due to its content but the book is one which should be read to allow children to understand how some children find it difficult in situations.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Loose Connections by Rosemary Hayes

Loose Connections

Jake's dad is away and his pregnant mum is in hospital, so his granny is looking after Jake - or so they think. But Gran has changed. She tends to be dazed or confused, fills Jake's sandwiches with strange combinations of food, leaves the cooker on, and wanders down the road in her nightie in the middle of the night. Jake doesn't want to worry his parents, so he tries to look after Gran himself. But help comes from a mysterious quarter, in the form of a strange, ghostly girl called Verity. Birth, death, and the rites of passage in family life that connect them are beautifully portrayed through the eyes of a young teenage boy.

I found this book a really good read. I am not sure what age I would recommend this book for as it has some difficult subjects included within the book - Jake's mum is in hospital because she is pregnant and has had problems and miscarriages in previous pregnancies, his father is in America, on a training course for a new job he has recently got, and Jake is left at home in the care of his grandmother who becomes ill while she is looking after him but he tries to hide it from everyone. Help comes in the form of the next door neighbour, who has a son with additional needs.

The story is one which has the clear message that children should ask for help when they have difficulties with parents and/or relatives and that they shouldn't try and deal with the situation themselves. 

There is also a mysterious girl, Verity, and the reader is left wondering throughout the story, who she is. I think this was an additional strand within the main story and was one which added to the story but was not one of the important parts.

I found the final chapter to be very emotional and beautifully written, but i would recommend tissues. I think that this is a book that young adults and/or adults would both enjoy and could be used as a support to children going through similar situations.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Never Say No to a Princess by Tracey Corderoy

Never Say No to a Princess! 

The little princess wants everything now, or else - she'll cry! But what happens when she wants her very own dragon? It's time for a whole river of tears. With beautiful, fresh illustrations and a laugh-out-loud text, this is a glorious tale of adventure, friendship and finally learning to say please. 

This is the perfect book for any princesses out there who love a good story. The story is beautifully told and has a great moral - you should always say please and not want, want, want. 

The story is told in child friendly text which using lots of adjectives to describe the scenes perfectly, allowing children to imagine the scene for themselves. Accompanied by the beautifully drawn pictures, this is a beautiful book to share at bedtime or story-time. 

The pictures have so much detail in them, they can be looked at and new things will be seen each time. They also are a great source of inspiration for children to make their own stories.

Thank you to the publishers, Alison Green Books and Scholastic, and the author, Tracey Corderoy, for sending me the book to review. 

One Night Only by Sue Welfare

One Night Only

Funny, sharp and deeply poignant, One Night Only explore the pitfalls of fame, friendship and family secrets and gets under the skin of why looking back is not an easy thing to do! Fame and fortune can't hide the secrets of her past! When fading soap star, Helen Redford, goes back to her old home town to make a TV show about her glittering career she catches a glimpse of the might-have-beens that drove her to leave in the first place. Ex boy friends, old scores to settle, friendships gone sour, chances not taken,and secrets about Helen's family that have haunted her since she was a little girl. Will Helen be able to put her past to rest?

I really enjoyed Sue Welfare's last book, The Surprise Party, and so I was pleased to receive her latest release and devoured it quickly.

One Night Only is about Helen Redford who is returning to her hometown to perform for one night only as part of a television program, Roots, which is looking into her life story. Helen is hoping they will will find her mother, who left while she was young, and Helen has never known why. However, when the film crew and Helen meet and the filming begins, the story takes them down another road, one Helen is unaware of, and a lot of old secrets are discovered.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a great read, one which you could loose yourself in. It reminds me of Who Do You Think You Are? and I really felt that I was on the journey with Helen throughout. There are moments of laughter but also moments where emotions are all over the place. There is a twist in the story and I did not see it coming, however it was cleverly intertwined in the story and made for a very interesting story. 

The book is meant to be a trip down memory lane for Helen but it ends up being a lot more than that. Sue Welfare very cleverly flicks between the past and present throughout the book and this allows us, the readers, to learn more about Helen. It certainly proves that although celebrity life may appear to be glitz and glam however it is often not the case.

I would recommend this book to all of my followers, a great read which although it sounds like an usual chick lit book is much more than that!

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

Fiona Walker - Sealed With A Kiss

Sealed with a Kiss

Allegra North's second thoughts about splitting with childhood sweetheart Francis need a first-class stamp. But with her unfinished letter to him still in her handbag, she can't find the right words to express her regrets. Invited to a big movie premiere through her work, she resolves to put all thoughts of her ex fiancé out of her mind; then she loses her handbag in the foyer. Francis meanwhile is determined to win Allegra back. Convinced that they should never have parted, he intends to declare his feelings in front of crowds of press and film fans that evening, unaware that his meticulous plans are about to be hijacked by his hired accomplice, a movie stuntman with a thirst for publicity . . . By the time the closing credits roll, the crowds will be baying for a kiss. Can a letter right wrongs, or do actions speak louder than words?

Fiona Walker releases her new novel, The Love Letter, on 26 April 2012, and in anticipation of this has released a short story for her fans. It is released today on Amazon here

Come back to my blog soon for a competition to win copies of The Love Letter.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams

Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Penny chews or hard boiled sweeties (you do get more for your money that way)? The jangle of your pocket money ...the rustle of the pink and green striped paper bag ...Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian's sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong. Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton's sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets. Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams - a novel - with recipes.

Last year I reviewed Colgan's previous book, Meet me at Cupcake Cafe, which I was not very keen on, however I was still looking forward to reading this book as the synopsis sounded brilliant. I am so glad I decided to give Colgan another chance because I enjoyed this book so much more.

I was immediately drawn to the cover of this book, in a striking red and teal foiling, it is both unusual and striking, with the vintage till and apron setting the scene for the book perfectly.

I immediately liked the main character Rosie, who has been asked to go and stay with her old aunt who has had recent hip operation and needs help with her sweet shop. Rosie has been asked to go and get it ready for sale along with the accompanying house but as soon as Rosie arrived in the small village I had a feeling that this would not be the case.

The village sounds quite close knit, with everyone knowing everyone else's business and not being welcoming to newcomers. There are farms, farmers and labourer's all around, local aristocracy and also a nosey dentist who detests sweet shops, an old doctor who has now employed a younger dishy doctor. 

I really enjoyed the story - the present day story is intermingled with excerpts from Aunt Lillian's diary from when she was younger and explains why Lillian has been single throughout her life. Each chapter is began with excerpts from Lillian Hopkin's book about sweets, and each chapter focuses on one sweet. 

The story has many different strands; Lillian, Rosie's elderly aunt, who is still single and took over the shop from her father; Rosie, who at the start of the book is living with her boyfriend, waiting for him to propose, her decision to go and look after her aunt and get the shop ready for sale; the mysterious Stephen, living alone, clearly injured but how and where?; and along the way we meet many of the villagers who all have their own story. 

The book flows along at a steady pace and I really enjoyed all of it. The characters all had their own story, and all added to village life. It reminded me of many series of books, set in a small country village, and each book focusing on a different character and throughout the series you meet lots of villagers - with a small village like this one, it would be possible to extend this book to a series, lots of potential.

I would recommend this book to all my followers, a great easy read for those summer afternoons spent relaxing.

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

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Never Coming Home by Evonne Wareham

Never Coming Home 

All she has left is hope. When Kaz Elmore is told her five-year-old daughter Jamie has died in a car crash, she struggles to accept that she'll never see her little girl again. Then a stranger comes into her life offering the most dangerous substance in the world: hope. Devlin, a security consultant and witness to the terrible accident scene, inadvertently reveals that Kaz's daughter might not have been the girl in the car after all. What if Jamie is still alive? With no evidence, the police aren't interested, so Devlin and Kaz have little choice but to investigate themselves. Devlin never gets involved with a client. Never. But the more time he spends with Kaz, the more he desires her - and the more his carefully constructed ice-man persona starts to unravel. The desperate search for Jamie leads down dangerous paths - to a murderous acquaintance from Devlin's dark past, and all across Europe, to Italy, where deadly secrets await. But as long as Kaz has hope, she can't stop looking… 

When I heard about this book I was intrigued - this must be the worst scenario that a parent could hear, Your child has been involved in an accident, she has died, yet later you hear that the child in the accident might not be yours.

Through the book we visit many countries: America, Germany and Italy and it during this journey that we discover family secrets, skeletons in the closet, and plenty of intrigue.  There is something for everyone in this book: heartache, suspence, intrigue, a little romance and a fantastic plot line!

The book is one of those that you can't put down once you have read the first few pages! The author, Evonne Wareham, has a fantastic writing style, one which makes you ask questions and also makes you feel you are at the scene throughout the book.  It is certainly one which tugs at your heartstrings as you read Kaz's story and I went through the full range of emotions while reading this book.

It was a fantastic read and one which I recommend most highly to all my blog readers. 

Thank you to Choc Lit Publishing for sending me the book to review and the author for visiting my blog during the blog tour last month. 

Friday, 16 March 2012

When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde

When You Were Older 

I was doing my best to get out the door. And then the phone rang. I almost let it go. New York, September 11th 2001. Russell Ammiano is rushing to work when he gets a phone call that saves his life. As the city he loves is hit by unimaginable tragedy, Russell must turn his back and hurry home to Kansas. Kansas, September 14th 2001 Ben Ammiano is mentally disabled, and a creature of habit. Any change to his routine sends him into a spin. But now his estranged brother has reappeared, and Ben's simple, ordered world has turned upside down. In a story as heartbreaking as it is uplifting, two brothers must bury their pasts and learn from each other, if they are to survive. 

On September 11th, Russell is running late for work and just as he is leaving his apartment, the phone rings and his old neighbour tells him his mother has died and needs to come home to look after him brother Ben. As he is coming to terms with the news, the first aeroplane hits the first tower, where he should of been working. The story follows Russell as he returns home and looks after his brother who has brain damage. What follows is Russell adapting to living in a small town again, where everyone knows everyone and when Russell falls for a pretty Egyptian bakery owner's daughter, he finds out how far people will go to retaliate against the people who's country may have been involved in the aeroplane crash.

This book had me captured from the first page. It is an emotional read on many levels. I think that September 11 has affected so many people in many ways and this book looks at the effects of people who were left behind after the event and how towns far away from New York reacted to the events of that day.

It is very well written book which has taken a hard hitting topic and looked at it from a very different viewpoint looking at it from the point of view of someone who got away from the disaster but was affected by it miles away in a different state. 

I found myself devouring this book very quickly and when I did manage to put it down for a few hours, I found myself thinking about the book and thinking about Rusty and Anat. 

As with all of Catherine Ryan Hyde books, it is a fantastic read which will have people talking about it for many weeks and months to come.

I received this book from the publishers, Doubleday, and as part of the Amazon Vine programme. 

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop 

Oz and Lily's family have inherited an ancient chocolate shop and they're moving in upstairs. It's the perfect home ...apart from the small fact that it's haunted. And then they discover some slid gold chocolate moulds - with magic powers! Soon the ghosts are joined by some evil villains determined to get their hands on the priceless secrets of the magical chocolate. 

As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I was intrigued and I was really excited to start to read this book. Although it is a children's book I really enjoyed it. A mixture between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Spooks!

The book follows the Spoffard's family who receive a strange parcel from a solicitor who tells them they have inherited a house, 18 Skittle Street, London. The parcel contained the title deeds and the set of keys. They visit the house and the first thing Lily meets is a ginger cat, Demerara, who only she can see and who talks to her. They soon discover that the house was once the workshop and shop of the famous Spoffard Brothers chocolate business. 

I will not spoil the story by divulging the story any further, except to say that the story contains excitement, magic, MI6 agents and secret missions. There are plenty of moments of humour within the book which will have children giggling away before they are swept along to the next mission they must complete to reach their goal - finding the chocolate moulds that each of the brothers had in their possession.

Kate Saunders has written a really good read, which children age 8+ will enjoy reading. I am sure it will be loved by both girls and boys and I will be looking out for other books by Saunders soon.

I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Catching Babies by Sheena Byrom

Catching Babies: A Midwife's Tale 

The inspirational story of life as a midwife. From her very first day as a nervous student nurse in Blackburn to the dedicated completion of her nursing qualifications and her training as a midwife in Burnley, Sheena Byrom has never once looked back, enjoying a thirty-five-year career with the NHS. Catching Babies is a moving account of an extraordinary career. It reveals the unique experiences that filled Sheena's days as she looked after overwhelmed mums and dads and helped to bring their precious babies into the world. At the forefront of evolving medical practices, she was the first midwife to oversee a home water birth in her area, but also found herself at the centre of a traumatic delivery that resulted in a nine-year litigation case and tested her to her limits. Yet, whatever has come Sheena's way, ultimately, there are the strong mothers who taught her so much and the little miracles who have made every single moment as a midwife truly magical. 

Like many other people, I have been enjoying the BBC adaptation of Call the Midwives by Jennifer Worth and picked up this book with great interest. I was certainly not disappointed.

The book is written by Sheena Byrom, a midwife who has enjoyed 35 years working for the NHS. The book begins with Sheena's first stay in hospital, aged 8, where she was influenced to train as a nurse, and later as a midwife and follow relatives into the profession.

There are plenty of tales from Sheena about her life as a student nurse, midwife and qualified midwife and then as she began to take part in moving midwifery into the modern age - allowing mothers more choices and standing up to the powers that be that said no. 

I would recommend this book to student midwives for them to see how midwifery has changed over the years - from the point of view of the midwives. It is a piece of social history which all students should read. Sheena Byrom has done a lot for midwifery and I would of loved a midwife like her looking after me through my two deliveries.

A great read and if you loved 'call the midwife' I recommend this to you all.

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

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Simon Callow visits Bromsgrove Artrix - Charles Dickens and the great theatre of the world

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World 
On Saturday 25 February 2012, I spent a lovely afternoon in the audience of Simon Callow’s talk about his recent publication “Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World” at Bromsgrove’s Artrix theatre.

The auditorium was packed, everyone waiting for Simon Callow to enter stage right, onto the stage. He did so, with a big smile and admitted it was his first trip to Bromsgrove, although he has visited Shakespeare’s Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham frequently.

With his strong and distinctive voice, Callow had the audience entranced for nearly 90 minutes and at many times the audience were laughing along with Callow and at others you could hear a pin drop while he had the audience wanting to know all he knew about the author.

Callow started his talk with the fact that he liked to Google the town he was visiting to see if it had any connections to Charles Dickens – the results: Simon Callow and Artrix theatre. No links there then!

Callow first introduction to the work of Charles Dickens was when his grandmother gave him a copy of The Pickwick Papers while he had Chickenpox and then he was hooked.

Callow reminisced with the audience about his times on the stage in Charles Dickens plays – playing Mr Cratchett and falling through a trap door, and a fellow actor asking if he had gone to the wine cellar! The laughter went through the auditorium at many times throughout the talk.

The start of the second half of the talk began with Callow reading from The Pickwick Papers. The actor within came to life, with great facial expressions, and although he was on stage alone, he appeared to change before my eyes into an old man or a younger man as the talk requested. It was amazing to watch and I am itching to see him on stage again soon.

Callow has done detailed research while writing this book and that is evident while reading it. It is full of interesting facts and both while reading the book and listening to him speaking, it was clear to see that he has enjoyed this project and it was one dear to his heart.  The book does not only tell the nice side to Dickens - it is all there; the highs, the lows, and all the bits in between!

Following the talk, Callow joined the audience in the foyer while he chatted to them and signed copies of the book. He was a lovely man, who had made time to talk with each person in the queue and answer their questions.

I would like to thank the publishers, Harper Press, for sending the book and to both them and The Artrix Theatre for providing me with the ticket for the talk.

The book is a really good read and I would recommend it to any fans of Charles Dickens. It is a well researched book and a fascinating read about one of the greatest authors of all time. 

Paddington Goes For Gold by Micheal Bond

Paddington Goes for Gold - Paddington 

A brand new picture book starring Paddington, the classic bear from Darkest Peru, as he takes part in a local family sports event, with hilarious results! When Paddington attends a local family sports event with the Brown family, he can't wait to try his paw at as many activities as possible. But, as always, when Paddington is around, things do not quite go according to plan! with outrageously sticky results. And as Paddington soon finds out, it's not winning that counts, it's the taking part! Will Paddington go home with any prizes? 

Olympic fever has hit England and it has also hit the publishing world too - I have reviewed a number of these titles on my blog already and will be reviewing more soon. 

Paddington is excited when a leaflet pops through the Brown's front door - it is a leaflet advertising a local sports club who are holding a fund raising event. The Browns all attend and find their neighbours, Mr Curry and family are there too. Of course, with Paddington Bear in attendance, the event does not go smoothly but there are some great Paddingtonn moments in the book.

The book is full of R.W. Alley's beautiful illustrations which accompany the story perfectly and the old Paddington magic is still there. There are funny moments throughout and it will be loved by children both young and old. 
The book finishes with a lovely message: 'Winning isn't everything. Taking part and doing your best is what matters most.' and i think this is an important message for everyone to take away from this book.

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

Socks by Nick Sharratt and Elizabeth Lindsay


Laugh your socks off! Stripy sharks and woolly crocs, Purple dogs with polka dots! What can you see made from Socks? Kids (and grownups!) will love this socktastic celebration of the nation's favourite footwear. Look out for sockerels, sockodiles and Goldisocks, and prepare to see your socks in a whole new light. 

This book follows the success of Pants! and More Pants! and has now moved to Socks! 

The book is full of brightly coloured socks of all descriptions. The pictures are black and white except the socks. I love these books, the authors have great imaginations and have created some fantastic creations. 

This book can not be read out aloud with a straight face, you are smiling as soon as you start page 1. There are lots of made up words and lots of verse, which children will want you to read again and again.

I would recommend this book as the perfect gift for children up to about 7 years old and would be a great addition to a nursery, preschool or early years setting.

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

Recipe for Love by Katie Fforde

Recipe for Love 

Take one aspiring cook, one judge, and a spoonful of romance...When Zoe Harper wins a coveted place in a televised cookery competition she's thrilled. It's a chance to cook her way to fame and fortune and the little delicatessen she's set her heart on. The first task has hardly begun when she finds herself with rather too much on her plate. Not only has she got to contend with the fiercely competitive and downright devious Cher, but she's fast developing an inconvenient crush on one of the judges - the truly delicious Gideon Irving. All too soon there's more than canapes, cupcakes and cordon bleu at stake. Will Zoe win the competition or is Gideon one temptation too far? And is Zoe really prepared to risk it all for love? 

Katie Fforde is one of my favorite authors. If I want a nice easy read, which leaves you with a nice feeling and one to relax with, I always pick up one of her books! 

Recipe for Love is based around a television cookery programme - think Masterchef but is set in a old country house. We follow the story of Zoe, one of the contestants on the show. There are lots of devious tactics, false friendships and a good love story - one which shouldn't happen and which will keep you on the edge of your seats until the final page!

There is a great cast of characters within this book - I loved Fenella, the heavily pregnant owner of the house, and her husband Rupert. The contestants on the cookery competition were a great representation of the contestants that appear on our television screens. There were the television crew and judges along with the locals. Something for everyone to love and hate.

As with all of Katie's books, the writing is fantastic and the story plausible - I am sure there is lots of things that go on behind the scenes that never get to screen or the public find out about. I would love to be a fly on the wall of one of these shows. 

I would recommend this book to all Katie Fforde fans but also to lovers of chick lit at its best. Perfect to relax with on a long spring afternoon or curl up with on a cold evening.

Horrid Henry's All Time Favourite Joke Book by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry's All Time Favourite Joke Book - Horrid Henry 

Laugh your head off with Horrid Henry, his family, friends and enemies as they present more hilarious, ridiculously ribtickling jokes. 

Another fantastic Horrid Henry book packed full of jokes that children of all ages will love. There are hundreds of jokes and some include some of horrid Henry's characters.  The book is split into twenty sections, each covering a different topic. There are jokes for Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas as well as jokes about monsters, doctors, dinosaurs to name just a few. There is something for any occasion or to cheer up anyone in this book.

I would recommend this to any Horrid Henry fan of any age or anyone looking for a child friendly joke book.

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

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Olivia and the Movie Star by Lyn Gardner

Olivia and the Movie Stars

The Swan Academy is under threat from closure due to a building development next door. Into this tense atmosphere come Cosmo and Cosima, the famous singing/acting twins from Hollywood. They are starring in Peter Pan and are learning to fly! A series of mysterious accidents in the theatre threaten to close the production, and Olivia's dad, who is flying consultant, gets the blame. Olivia uses her highwire skills to get hold of the development plans and a protest campaign is organised. But then another accident takes place - a rope has been cut through and the twins are nearly killed. Who is doing this - and why?

This is the third book in the series about Olivia, her sister Eel and her grandmother, Miss Swan who owns and runs The Swan Academy of Theatre and

I have enjoyed these books since the first book, Olivia's First Term, and the series is getting better and better with each book. Although it is a modern day story, the school still has the education at its heart - each student must complete academic studies before they can perform

As I have previously said about this book: The story is a modern day tale of a stage school but one with traditional values, where children must excel in both song, acting or dance alongside the traditional subjects of maths,English etc. There are many characters within the book, which children will be able to relate to; the popular girl, who has everything she wants, but finds money or blackmail can't buy friendship; the quiet and studious children who work to the best of their ability who the popular children prey upon; along with other individuals who all add to the school in their own way. However in this story the girl who thought that money could buy everything has a change of heart and realise who her real friends are and what she really cares about. As ever, the school pupils club together to become a force to be reckoned with. There are adventures a plenty to be had during this term and Olivia and Eel are not far away from the action. 

This book will appeal to girls who would love to go to stage school or like singing, dancing and theatre. However, I also think that readers will love it who are fans of school stories - modern day Mallory Towers with a twist.

Thank you to the author and publishers, Nosy Crow, for sending me the book to review.

The Viewer by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan

The Viewer

Young Tristan, a curious boy who rescues all sorts of objects from the rubbish dump, finds an old Viewmaster in its elaborate box, complete with a set of disks. He finds that these represent the ages of humankind, seen as a cyclical structure in which patterns of growth and decay are repeated. Tristan becomes more and more drawn in to the world of the disks, and eventually disappears. The book is full of metaphors and symbols of seeing and watching, circularity and never-endingness, in a complex, fantastical tale, which was Shaun Tan's first picture book.

A book which will appeal to boys who are inquisitive and like mystery, intrigue or fantasy. A picture book style book, with many pictures, but fewer words.

The author uses descriptive words throughout, allowing the reader to imagine the scenes and especially the box/viewer. He describes using all the senses - the odour of the entombed air, the detailed engraving etc. The story is short but the readers imagination could twist their own story within the book. 

The book is full of fantastic illustrations which are as much apart of the story as the words themselves. The first page of the story is of a baby on a play mat - however the rest of the pictures are amazing - full of details which seem to appear before your eyes and tell the stories as well as the words.

I would recommend this book for a slightly older child, aged 7 and over. 

Thank you to Michael from The School Run Forum and Hodder Children's Books for sending me the book to review.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Knit One, Pearl One by Gil McNeil

Knit One Pearl One: A Beach Street Knitting Society Novel

Knit one ..... It's been a busy few years since Jo Mackenzie lost her husband. Life has brought adventure, surprises, unexpected pleasures, and, of course, lots of knitting. Jo's seaside yarn shop, with a brand-new cafe, has taken off, keeping her busier than ever. And being a single mum to two boys and headstrong Pearl is just as exhausting and enchanting as she thought it would be. On top of all that, celebrity diva Grace has a secret; Jo's firecracker best friend Ellen is launching a new television series; and lovable but hapless Martin continues his oft misguided attempts to woo Jo. Just when Jo thinks she has about all she can handle, Daniel, Pearl's globe-trotting dad, turns up out of the blue.....
Purl one .... But with a little help from her friends, and her beloved Gran, Jo is building a new life for herself by the sea, stitch by stitch. Warm and witty, Knit One Pearl One will delight new readers to the Beach Street series and give the legions of existing fans a chance to visit the British sea-side again, without having to worry about the weather.

Sometime ago I discovered Gil McNeil and Jo MacKenzie a number of years ago and have enjoyed following her as she took over the wool shop and has made it her own, and her plans and ideas to get the locals knitting and build a knitting community in the seaside town where she lives.

The first book in the series, Diva's don't knit, has been renamed 'The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club' and introduces Jo and her family following the sudden death of her husband and Jo's change in career to run the knitting shop. The books follow Jo's journey in building up the business, building up customers, a regular knitting group and getting the community and local school interested in knitting. Jo has both family and friends which play a big part in the books. 

Although I enjoyed this book, I did think that this book was slower than the previous books with little happening to the main characters. However, it was nice to revisit the knitting shop and find out how Jo's new baby was growing up and how the business is going following the fire in the shop. 

I really enjoyed Gil McNeil's writing, easy to get into and you can loose a few hours reading it but I would recommend reading the other books in the series first to get the back-story of the characters.

I would also recommend readers read other Gil McNeil books - she has written a number of books other than this series, not related to knitting or wool shops.

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

I would love to visit Jo's knitting shop and meet the staff - it sounds like a lovely shop to visit and be part of a real knitting community. 

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number

I've lost it. :( The only thing in the world I wasn't supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It's been in Magnus' family for three generations. And now, the very same day his parents are coming, I've lost it. The very same day. Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive!! :) A couple of glasses of bubbly with the girls at a charity do and Poppy's life has gone into meltdown. Not only has she lost her engagement ring, but in the panic that followed, she's lost her phone too. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number with the hotel staff. It was meant to be! Except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn't agree. He wants his phone back, and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, phone messages and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents, can things get any more tangled?

Sophie Kinsella has written many books. She is behind that very popular Shopaholic series, which I enjoyed, however I do prefer her one of, standalone books including Twenties Girl and the Undomestic Goddess and I have therefore, been looking forward to this book being released.

This book is completely different to her other standalone books, but this one is  just as good. Sophie has very cleverly used footnote's throughout the book and they are an added insight into the thoughts of Poppy throughout her adventure. There are also a lot of email correspondence and text messages used during the book, another thing Sophie has cleverly used to move the story along. I have always enjoyed novels which use different methods to tell the story and these bring the book bang up-to date with modern technology.

There is humour, wit and a love story within this book but the main story is one of intrigue and a story aiming to work out what is happening with Sam's business and who is trying to sabotage the company - Poppy tries to discover who it is, but will she be too late and will she end up marrying the snobbish Magnus or will she call it all off and disappear into the sunset with Sam - I know who I hoped it was but I won't spoil it here!

As with all of Sophie's books, I found myself thinking, just one more chapter before putting the book down, but I found myself reading many more than just one chapter. The book will have you laughing out load but also wanting to take Poppy by the hand and make her realise what is really happening around her!

Sophie Kinsella has recently had a baby but I really hope we don't have to wait too long for another fantastic read from her!

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

The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog Goes for Gold by Jeremy Strong

The Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Dog Goes for Gold!

Guess what's coming to town? The Animal Games! There'll be show jumping for horses and rabbits and Discus for Dogs - so of course I have to enter Streaker. Mum says a carrot is more obedient than my dog but I think she can do it - Streaker can go for gold.

The Hundred Mile an Hour Dog is back and this time is involved in a great story which links up to London hosting The Olympics 2012. 

Streaker and his owner were in bed, ill, when there was a loud noise downstairs - Tina had crashed into the rubbish bin on her skateboard. She was excited because their town council had decided to celebrate the International Games by holding their own International Games, for animals!  Of course, they immediately decide that Streaker should take part.
They were also excited about the International Games because local athlete, Kriss Okonjo, would be competing and while they were training Streaker, they were surprised to find Kriss was also training in the same woods. 

The story is, typical Jeremy Strong, a great read, funny and ideal for children aged 7+.  The book will be perfect in the build up to The Olympics, getting children interested in events and the games as a whole. There are hilarious moments when they are training Streaker, there is the possibility of underhand tactics and lots of training. A fantastic read for children aged seven years and over and is a great book for sharing at bedtime or for children who are beginning to read independently.

The book has lots of pencil sketches throughout the story, these have been drawn by Rowan Clifford and the front cover illustrated by Nick Sharratt. They are fantastic illustrations which accompany the story brilliantly.

I would recommend this as a great book for fans of Jeremy Strong and also anyone wanting to get into the Olympic spirit early.

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

Stunt Bunny Medal Mayhem by Tamsyn Murray

Medal Mayhem - Stunt Bunny

Harriet Houdini is going for gold in the London Animalympics! Hearing that Superpets is going to be part of an international Olympics for animals, Harriet fancies her chances at bringing home some medals. She goes into training with a world famous athlete and brings a whole new meaning to the hop-skip-and-jump of the triple jump. But not everyone wants to see Harriet win, least of all The Great Maldini, and she has to take some unconventional transport to make to the Animalympics final.

Another great book for children in the build up to the Olympics! Harriet Houdini is back and she is going for gold. The Team Superpets are invited to compete to represent England in The Animalympics, when each team member will be provided with a professional athlete to coach them in their specialist event for the Animalympics. Harriet Houdini decides to compete in the triple jump and soon makes it into the England team where she is paired with Calvin Cross, medal winning triple jumper.  Of course there are people trying to prevent Harriet from the competition but will they succeed?

This is another brilliantly written book by Tamsyn Murray featuring the adorable Harriet Houdini. It is timed perfectly for The Olympics and will be great to get children interested in the games. There are fantastic illustrations throughout the book by Lee Wildish, which accompany the story perfectly.

This book is aimed at children aged five years plus - this is a book which would have to be read to children aged five plus but they would enjoy the story, the chapters are perfect length for bedtime stories. It would be great for children who are beginning to read independently.

I would recommend this book to fans of Stunt Bunny or to anyone wanting to get into the Olympic spirit early.

Thank you to the author and Simon and Schuster kids for sending me the book to review.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Gorilla, Eye on the Wild, by Suzi Eszterhas

Gorilla - Eye on the Wild

The story of a gorilla, from birth to adulthood, photographed on location in the wild by an award-winning American photographer, who specialises in work with newborn animals. The text will show all the aspects of the animal's life in the wild, accompanied by close-up pictures of the family group in its natural habitat. A spread at the back of the book will give further conservation information, including useful websites.

Another book in the series, Eye on the Wild, by photographer Suzi Eszterhas. 

The book is full of beautiful photographs taken in the misty mountains of Africa. Many of them capturing some of tender moments between mother and baby when a baby is young and clinging to its mother all day and night.

The book tells the story of a baby Gorilla's first six years of life, and is told in a way suitable for young children. The book is set out with the main focus on the photographs, with the story telling the life of Gorilla suitable for younger children who  are animal lovers. 

This book would be a lovely coffee table book for young children to look at, while also being a perfect addition to a school library or a present for an animal lover.

Thank you to Michael from The School Run Forum and Frances Lincoln Children's Books for sending me the book to review.

Cheetah, Eye on the Wild by Suzi Eszterhas

Cheetah - Eye on the Wild

The story of a cheetah, from birth to adulthood, photographed on location in the wild by an award-winning American photographer, who specialises in work with newborn animals. The text will show all the aspects of the animal's life in the wild, accompanied by close-up pictures of the family group in its natural habitat. A spread at the back of the book will give further conservation information, including useful websites.

This book is one of a series called 'Eye on the Wild'. There are four books in the series at the present time, Cheetah, Brown Bear, Gorilla and Lion. The books are by Suzi Eszterhas, a professional wildlife photograph who is well known for her work with newborn animals.

This book tells the story of the first two years of a cheetah's life - told in simple words, perfect for younger children and told in the style of a story although it is full of interesting and useful facts about the Cheetah.

The book is full of beautiful shot photographs and show the cheetah's in their natural environment being young cheetahs, learning to watch and stalk other animals, playing with their siblings and climbing trees. 

This book would be a lovely coffee table book for young children to look at, while also being a perfect addition to a school library or a present for an animal lover.

Thank you to Michael from The School Run Forum and Frances Lincoln Children's Books for sending me the book to review.