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Friday, 31 August 2012

Haven of Obedience by Marina Anderson

Haven of Obedience
You've devoured Fifty Shades ...Now it's time to lose yourself in the Haven of Obedience Twenty-something Londoner Natalie Bowen is envied by many, but her personal life is a disaster. Men can't cope with her career success and Natalie thinks she'll never find real happiness. Then she hears about an exclusive weekend retreat called The Haven, a place that specialises in introducing you to pleasures you could never have imagined. Shocked at the idea, but unable to resist finding out more, Natalie decides it's time to put her fears behind her. Once at The Haven, Natalie meets the enigmatic and disciplined Simon, a man who is used to getting what he wants. And Natalie may very well have met her match ...

I have read the Fifty Shades trilogy (review to follow soon) and although I enjoyed them, I think this was the better read with a storyline that could be followed throughout the book but with an ending that could lead to a follow on book.

The book was based in a country home where guests were taught to pleasure others. There were plenty of erotic scenes which were graphic, however the writing was very good and the scenarios full of intensity and desire.

I have recommended this book to many of my friends who have enjoyed fifty shades but have warned them that this is a more intense read!

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

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Help your kids with Science by Carol Vorderman

Help Your Kids with Science
A simple, visual approach to helping your child understand science from Carol Vorderman

Reduce the stress of studying science and help your child with their homework by following Help Your Kids with Science, a unique visual guide that demystifies the subject for everyone.

Using clear, accessible pictures, diagrams and easy-to-follow step-by-steps - and covering all the important areas of biology, chemistry and physics - you'll learn to approach even the most complex science problems with confidence. Includes a glossary of key science terms and symbols.

Help Your Kids with Science is the perfect guide for every frustrated parent and desperate child, who want to understand science and put it into practice.

As soon as I saw that this book was published by DK I knew that it was a must have., DK are renown for publishing highly informative, clearly laid out and easy to read book. Put that together with Carol Vorderman as the author and I was even more eager to get the book.

The book covers Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The book starts with asking what is science? and explains the scientific method, which any scientist will go through while completing their research projects.

The book is filled with brightly coloured, clearly laid out pages which explains many of the basic principles which underlies much of the science taught in schools today. There is a mixture of brightly coloured pictures and easy to read definitions and explanations on each page. Most of the topics are summarized in a double page spread meaning the important information is included in the book and can be a starting point for further research into a topic.

I would recommend this book as a must have for anyone who has children going into a secondary school this September and should be read by both parents and children.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Olivia's Enchanted Summer by Lyn Gardner

Olivia's Enchanted Summer

School's out for summer! Olivia and her friends are going to be spending August in Edinburgh, home to the world-famous Fringe Festival. They can't wait to get there, to stay in the beautiful city and soak up the Festival atmosphere, while the Swan Circus performs every day to wild applause and rapturous reviews - With such passion, such good friendships and the summer stretching out before them, what could possibly go wrong?

This is the fifth book in the series by Lyn Gardner featuring The Swan Theatre School and in this instalment The Swans are taking their circus show to Edinburgh Festival for the summer season.
I really enjoy these books, they are a great series set within a stage school - but one where curriculum lessons are as important as the stage school classes. The school is ran by Lydia Swan and the circus is the brain child of her son in law Jack Marvell and his children, Olivia and Eel. The school all go to Edinburgh and work as hard as they can to promote their new show - this is an adventure for the whole cast and they have a great time up there. However, Olivia notices there are a number of jewel thefts around the city and in particular two girls appear to in the right place, at the right time, but when they get involved in the circus act, Olivia is unsure what to do.

This is a great book for children aged 9+ and I think it would appeal to both boys and girls, especially if they have an interest in performing arts or circus routines. The series are still a great school based set of stories which enlist the values that academic studies come before anything else. 

Thank you to the author and the publishers, Nosy Crow, for sending me the book to review and I am looking forward to the next instalment out this autumn.

Horrid Henry's Food by Francesca Simon

A Horrid Factbook: Food - Horrid Henry

Packed with fun and freaky facts, this is the perfect guide to everything you ever wanted to know (and lots of things you might never have wanted to know) about FOOD - Horrid Henry style!

My children love the Horrid Henry story books and I think we have just about every book in the popular series,which have been read many times by both of them. These factbooks are a great addition to the series containing real facts about a number of topics.

This book is full of food related facts. Containing a wide and varied range of facts about food this is an interesting book which could be a starting point for further investigation into many topics.

There are facts about fast food, food from around the world, crunchy creepy crawlies and gross grub to name a few of the chapters in this book and each one has well known facts but there are also the wild and wacky ones which will keep the children amused for ages. There are facts included which I can imagine will be the talk of the playground the next day.

As with all Horrid Henry books the text is intermingled with the fantastic illustrations by Tony Ross which add more humour to the book.

This is a great non fiction book for children - both Horrid Henry fans but also for potential cooks and chefs to learn more about food.

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

Poppy the Pirate Dog by Liz Kessler

Poppy the Pirate Dog - Early Reader

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey. Poppy is very excited to be going on holiday, especially when she is given a skull and crossbones scarf to wear. But life as a pirate dog at the seaside is trickier than she realises...

I have said previously on this blog that I really like the Orion Children's Books Early Readers series, they are great for early readers who are gaining confidence in their own ability to read alone. This book, is another great addition to the series, and will appeal to both boys and girls alike.

Poppy, along with his family, go on a family to the seaside and when he is given a skull and crossbones scarf, he believes he can be a pirate dog - but does he have his sea legs??

 The story is split into manageable chapters, giving the transition from picture books to 'proper' books. The story is intermingled with pictures which accompany the story perfectly and keep the reader engaged.  

This book is perfect to be read at story time or for an early reader to read out loud with a peer.

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

Is a Camel a Mammal? (DK)

Is a Camel a Mammal?

This title presents tricky trivia to challenge you and your friends. Humans may be at the top of the food chain, but are you top of the class when it comes to the animal kingdom? "Is a Camel a Mammal?" will take your brain on safari with our wild selection of quizzes, graded by difficulty for easy reference. From the armadillo to the zebra, from the desert to the jungle, explore the planet's creatures, the creepy crawlies as well as the cute and cuddly and test your knowledge. Your family will go ape for the gorgeous graphics, while the fun quiz format will introduce you to a whole pack of jaw-dropping facts.

A pocket sized book which is packed full of quizes about all types of animals. The questions are rated easy, medium and hard and all have multiple choice answers. There is also a reference section at the end of the book which adds a little more information to the questions.

The book is great to test the whole family - the questions range in being things that are widely known about animals but also has questions in the hard sections that are more obscure. This would give a great starting point to a further search about the animals in the library or an internet search.

In all, this is a great little book, which would be a great gift for any young animal lover or future zoo-ologist. DK have done it again, with an informative and exciting fact filled book.

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

Dirty Bertie My Joke Book - David Roberts compiled by Amanda Li

My Joke Book (Dirty Bertie)Why do apples on trees remind Bertie of bogeys? They're fresh, green and ready to pick!

This book is packed full of all my favourite jokes. There are smelly jokes, revolting jokes, snotty jokes and rude jokes ..... Take this book into school to amuse your friends and annoy your teachers!

This book is full of jokes that your kids will love! They are all around things that kids love to joke about stinky stuff, school, mind your manners, everything you need to nose!, what a load of rubbish and my family. The jokes are great for kids to retell in the school playground or even at family gatherings, without you having to worry about what the punchline will be. 

This is a great book for children who love revolting jokes. It would also be a great incentive for new or early readers to encourage them to read - the jokes are short and ideal for them to practice their new skills with.

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

Friday, 17 August 2012

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

 When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a summer job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's holiday home in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation: a tropical island beats the library any day. T.J. has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having had cancer wasn't bad enough, he now has to spend his first summer in remission with his family instead of his friends. Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Marooned on an uninhabited island, Anna and T.J. work together to obtain water, food, fire and shelter but, as the days turn to weeks then months and finally years, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man. .

Sometimes, when I finish a book, I want to immediately restart it and this was one of those books. I found myself reading just one more chapter at night, and still be reading 5 chapters later.

The book starts with Anna, a 30  year old teacher, accepting a job over the summer break to travel to a tropical island, to privately tutor a 16 year old boy, T.J., who has missed a lot of school due to cancer treatment. However, when  Anna and T.J. are traveling to the tropical island, to meet up with T.J.'s parents for the summer break, the pilot suffers a heart attack and dies, leaving them stranded at sea . Luckily, they reach an island, which appears uninhabited and it is they stay, hoping that someone will rescue them.

I found this book a brilliant read. It took me to the island in my mind, the blue skies and crystal clear water lapping on white beaches. However, there is also another side to this story, that of Anna and T.J. who must learn to survive on the island, with nothing to live on except what the island produces and hoping their luggage will wash up on the shoreline. This side of the story was brilliantly written - there was times when they were very resourceful and times of difficulty which they overcame. 

The other story is the relationship between Anna and T.J. At the start it is that of teacher and pupil, who do not know each other very well when the disaster happens. However, they quickly become a team and work together to try and overcome any problems which life throws at them. However this relationship begins to change over time, as T.J. begins to mature into a man - I think that this is a slow change, with Anna first finding it difficult to accept the change in dynamics with T.J. wanting to become the 'man' of the island, being a hunter, gatherer and protecting Anna, whereas Anna was employed by T.J.'s parents as a teacher for their son, however now they are living in very close proximity and feelings are beginning to get stronger between them.

I do not want to ruin how this story ends, however I was very pleased with how the story did develop and especially the journey to the final ending. There was no, and they all lived happily ever after - there were more feelings to consider than just those of Anna and T.J. I think the author had a very detailed and well thought out progression to the story which approached the story from many different viewpoints and considered all affected by the story. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a great summer read, one to loose yourself in if you have a few hours to relax in the sun, or on a sofa, because once you start this book, you will not want to put it down!

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

Dirty Bertie Pirate! by Alan MacDonald

Pirate! - Dirty Bertie Bk.17
Dirty Bertie - the boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits - is back for another helping of comic chaos! Join Bertie as he samples life as a swashbuckling pirate, cooks up a storm in the poshest restaurant in town, and teams up with Dad at the School Sports Day in an attempt to beat Royston Rich!

Dirty Bertie is back - and with him he brings mischief, mayhem and laughter!

Dirty Bertie is perfect for any child who enjoys causing mayhem and mischief. Even though the main character is a boy, I think that this character is one which will appeal to both girls and boys. 

The book includes three short stories, which will be perfect for confident early readers to read alone or to be shared at bed time, reading a couple of chapters each time.

The three stories are all on completely different stories - Pirate day at school, A secret restaurant reviewing weekend and a competitive sports day at school.

Intermingled among the story are some of David Roberts fantastic illustrations which depict the chaos and mayhem Bertie takes with him, where ever he goes.

This book is a perfect gift for both boys and girls alike, who are beginning to gain confidence in reading alone. 

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

BFF's by Holly Robbins

Sink or Swim! - BFFs Bk. 1Sink or Swim
It's the start of a new school year, but for Ellie Lovewood, it's also the start of a whole new school, too. Even though her BFF, Jasmine, is going to the same school she can't help worrying - she's always been the quiet and shy one whereas Jasmine wouldn't look out of place on the stage! What if Jasmine finds some more exciting friends to hang out with? Argh! Life was so much easier at primary school! Now there are new lessons, new classmates and new boys to get to know...not to mention the ton of homework that's suddenly landed in her lap and the endless new jokes about her surname! It's time to sink or swim!

Stage Fright - BFFs Bk.2Stage Fright
Ellie and Jasmine have made it to half-term - just! And better still, they've made two new BFFs, Lexie and Nisha, along the way. It's been a nerve-wracking few weeks as the girls have got to know their new school, new classmates, scary teachers and the horrible uniform, which is still far too big and seriously uncool! As the girls return to school after the holiday, Jas has her sights set on a starring role in the Christmas play, but she's in for a BIG shock. Year Sevens aren't eligible for any of the main parts - it's a small role or nothing. Jas can't believe it and is soon set on sabotaging the whole production. Can Jas' friends stop her from being such a drama queen and spoiling the play for completely? 

This is a new series of books written by Holly Robbins and I think that they are perfect for the girls who have outgrown princesses and fairies (as my daughter has) and before they get into books about girls with boyfriends etc.

The main characters, Ellie and Jasmine, are about to start a new school and they are full of a lot of emotions: excitement and happiness, but also lots of worries and fears. 

The first book is based upon the build up to the girls starting a new school and also the first half term at the new school. The second book is about their second half term and the school's annual Christmas performance.

The books are aimed at girls and would be great around this time of year when many children are moving to new schools. The main characters are very believable in their feelings and thoughts about moving school and I am sure there are many children now also having those same thoughts.

The second book also has a very good back story - Jas believes she is good enough to have a main part in the school performance, however when she only makes understudy for the part she had her heart set on, she decides to set up a rival talent show and perform in that instead.  However, not all goes to plan! 

I think these books would make a great gift to any girls who are moving school this year, or any who have strong friendships and have others wanting to also be included within that strong friendship group.

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

Animal SOS by Kelly McKain

The Mystery of the Cliff-top Dog - Animal SOS Bk.1 The mystery of the cliff-top dog
Leah and Amy may be total opposites, but when it comes to helping animals in danger they make the perfect team! When Amy moves to "White Horse Bay" she can't wait to start her riding lessons at the local stables. There she meets fiery Leah, and soon the girls are caught up in their first adventure. Amy has spotted an injured dog stranded on a cliff and the owners are nowhere to be seen. With a terrible storm coming the girls need a plan, and fast - It's Animal S.O.S. to the rescue!

The Haunted House Kittens - Animal SOS Bk.2 The Haunted House Kittens
Leah and Amy may be total opposites, but when it comes to helping animals in danger they make the perfect team! When the girls discover a litter of kittens whilst exploring a spooky manor house, they know their next adventure has begun! It seems someone has been feeding the kittens, but the house has been empty for years. As Leah and Amy start to unravel the manor's secrets, they find themselves in terrible danger. Who are the sinister visitors creeping around the gardens and what are they up to? Animal S.O.S. is on the case! 

When I first saw these books, my first impression was that they would be the modern day Secret Seven, however when I read them I realised although they were not exactly the same, there are some similarities!

Amy moves, along with her mother, to White Horse Bay, which is very different from the busy town they had left. She soon meets Leah, whose mother owns the local stables and a friendship is soon formed between the two.

The girls are soon firm friends and when they were together they found animals in need - in the first book a dog stuck on a cliff during a thunder storm and in the second a litter of kittens with no mother in sight, animals which the girls feel they have to rescue.

The books are well written and are ideal for confident readers. These are great books for animal lovers who want something different to the 'normal' cute and cuddly animal stories that I have seen for this age range. Although the main characters within the books are female, I am sure that the stories would appeal to both girls and boys.

I would recommend these books to animal lovers who are confident readers.

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

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Learn with Hello Kitty: Alphabet Letters

Learn with Hello Kitty: Numbers
Learn with Hello Kitty: Starting to Write 
Hello Kitty helps your child take the next step in getting ready for school in this simple-to-follow guide to starting to write. Covering letter shapes and formation and linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage, Hello Kitty makes learning fun. Packed with Hello Kitty reward stickers to help motivate your child!  

These books are perfect for little girls who want to do 'school work'. They are brightly coloured, simple to follow workbooks which have a girly theme. Inside each book is a double page of hello kitty stickers which can be used as a reward - there is even a reward chart included in the back of the book.
It is a great book if children want to have a go, but they should not be pushed to sit down and work through the book if they are not interested (I am studying towards a degree in Early Years Studies and have seen parents push their young children to sit and learn to write too early). It will keep children's attention, especially if they are a Hello Kitty fan or are particularly girly.
The publishers have also published a number of books for older children: Collins My First Hello Kitty Dictionary; Collins Hello Kitty Dictionary; and Collins Hello Kitty Dictionary for encouraging older children who need extra help in spelling for homework.

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

All of Me by Claire Richards

All Of Me: My Story

Claire Richards, young, fit and with a figure to die for, reached the dizzying heights of fame in the hit band Steps when she was only twenty. When she left, and Steps split shortly after, the world was shocked by the news. Now, writing with incredible honesty, Claire tells her story, from her teenage music career to her big break with Steps. She reveals that while in the band she faced harsh pressure to stay thin, and starved herself for years. Feeling broken by the experience, she finally left and sank into a pit of depression, gaining huge amounts of weight and losing all self-esteem. Believing her career was over, she also had to cope with a painful split from her Steps dancer husband. Thankfully finding love with her now husband, Reece, got her back on track. He didn't care about her size; he just wanted Claire. And, after seeing her weight go up and down for years, Claire has refused to diet any more. Happily married, with two kids, she's finally comfortable in her own skin on stage and screen. In this book, with humour, grace and sincerity, she shares her journey to her happy ending.

I have been a fan of Steps since their first hit of 5,6,7,8 was released. There has been so much written over the years about the members of the group and one of the top topics of conversation has been about Claire Richards and her weight. Claire has hit back at the journalists and in her book reveals all about her life and her personal battle with her yo yo weight. 

I usually find myself dipping in and out of autobiographies alot, skipping to the best bits of the authors life. However, this book I read cover to cover in two days and enjoyed it all. 

It starts with the birth of Claire and talks about her childhood and her first attempt at the charts with the group TSD, before she was given a place in Steps. There are the highs and lows of band life, including their first hit and their concerts before the news that Boxing Day when Steps broke up, before we get to the present day and Steps reform and embark on a reunion tour.
Throughout all of this is the underlying thread of Claire's battle with her weight - being told she was too big by Step's management, before leaving the band and having the constant harassment in the media of her increasing weight.

I really enjoyed reading about Claire's life and think that this gave Claire the opportunity to put her side of the story - I watched the documentary on Sky 1 recently and think that this book managed to portray how Claire was really feeling and I wonder how much of this the other member of Steps knew about this before the book was released because I think a lot was not actually said (or shown as said) on the documentary. 

I also think that Claire's battle with her weight has been recorded really well in this book - although the media has given many column inches to this topic, Claire is a healthy mum of two, successful business woman, and has had to answer to many management teams, PR people etc for so many years while in the band - surely she is now able to relax a bit and enjoy life!!

Well done Claire for a frank and honest autobiography - I really enjoyed this book and think that all your critics should read it and weep!

Thank you to the publishers, Sidgewick and Jackson part of  Pan Macmillan, for sending me the book to review.

Doodlepedia - doodle and discover a world of fascinating facts

Sharpen your pencil as well as your brain with this interactive colour-in doodle book, "Doodlepedia". Once you've taken out your pens and pencils, you won't want to put "Doodlepedia" down. Add your own drawings and scribbles to the amazing designs and images, and learn as you doodle. Each subject is brought to life with original photography and images on every page, from the wings of symmetry on a butterfly to what's on your TV. "Doodlepedia" is a fact-packed drawing and colouring book that you will love, so use your imagination and get doodling.

There is something in this book for everyone. It would make a great coffee table book which the whole family book could contribute too. There are lots of pictures to colour, finish or add your own piece to a picture!

There is more to this book than a simple colouring book. There are doodles which encompass mathematics, science, history name but a few topics and will capture the child's (and adult's) attention immediately. 

The book is produced on high quality paper and felt tips can be used without fear of bleeding through onto the doodle printed on the other side. 

It is a large book (larger than A4) and has over 100 pages to keep people entertained through wet days and long holidays alike. 

I would recommend this as a great gift for children (and adults) of any age, but would recommend it be accompanied by a pack of felt tips, pencil crayons etc so they can start straight away!

I received this through the Amazon Vine Programme.

My Granny is a Pirate by Val McDermid and Arthur Robins

My Granny is a Pirate

 My granny is a pirate! She's sailed the seven seas. She captured many pirate ships But was always home for tea. When a family secret about Granny is revealed, we discover all about her fiercesome pirate reputation and her swashbuckling ways - from making other rogueish pirates walk the plank to singing sea shanties to her dog, Jolly Roger. Look again at your granny...could she be a pirate too? A must-have book for all pirate fans.

When I heard that Val McDermid was going to be writing children's books I was surprised - most people associate the name Val McDermid with crime novels, a genre far away from children's books. When I was offered the chance to review her book, I jumped at the chance.

THe book is written in rhyme and is all about a Granny who has a secret, she is a pirate! The story is quite slow at the start but towards the end the story gathers a little pace. It is a story that I am sure children will be reciting of their favourite parts after listening or reading the story a few times.

The illustrations that accompany the story are great. They capture alot of  the rhyme and also capture the mischievousness of Granny.

I would recommend this book for slightly older children (5+) because I think the story is aimed more for them. It would be a great gift for any pirate loving children.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.