Challenge Participant


Saturday, 28 December 2013

GCSE Mathematics (Edexcel) Exam Practice Workbook Higher Level

GCSE Maths Edexcel Exam Practice Workbook with Answers & Online Edn: Higher

This book (plus free online edition) provides comprehensive, realistic exam practice in the style of the Higher Level Edexcel A & B GCSE Maths papers. There's a wide range of questions covering the whole course, with grades to indicate the difficulty level and helpful tips and guidance throughout. Detailed worked solutions are printed at the back of the book, with a complete mark scheme that makes it easy to check your progress. At the end of the book, there are two complete practice exams - and if you're stuck, you can watch online videos of CGP's Maths experts working through these exams. Last but not least, a free online digital edition of the entire book is also included - just use the unique code printed in the book to access it.

A mathematics workbook. It is GCSE higher level and has been written by the Edexcel examination board. Add to this the fantastic CGP publishers and the result is a fantastic resources for GCSE students to ensure their revision is going well.

The book is split into six sections covering the main areas of the mathematics GCSE: Numbers; Algebra; Graphs; Geometry and Measures; Pythagoras and Trigonometry; and Statistics and Probability. Each section has a number of topics within it covering the sylabus. 

One thing to remember about this book is that it is a WORKbook, not a text book. There are not any 'how to' pages or examples to follow. The book is full of questions with marks avaliable shown for each part of the question. The answers are also in the back of the book and the split of the marks avaliable are also given. 

There are also two practice exam papers within the book (one using a calculator and one non calculator paper). 

One very big plus point for this book is that there is an online code in the front of each copy which gives access to online resources. These resources include the examples to these practice papers and have worked solutions to the Practice Papers along with step-by-step video solutions. The online code also gives access to an ebook copy of this workbook.

The start of the book includes two pages on Exam Tips, including golden rules, calculator tips, understanding of command words, functional questions and the quality of written communication. 

Although this book is specifically for Edexcel students I am sure other exam board students would find it useful as revision questions but not all guidance about exam papers etc may be correct for every student due to different exam boards specific requirements.

In summary, a useful book full of mathematics questions to test your understanding of many of the techniques examined at GCSE level.

I received this book through The Amazon Vine Programme.

How to Lose a Lemur by Frann Preston-Gannon

How to Lose a Lemur

By the much-loved author of The Journey Home and Dinosaur Farm. Everyone knows that once a lemur takes a fancy to you there is not much that can be done about it. While being followed by lemurs one day, a boy tries hiding up a tree (without luck), disguising himself (without success) and even tries to sail off in a boat to get away from them - only to discover the lemurs snorkeling behind him. Eventually,after climbing mountains, taking trains and going through the air in a balloon, he finally thinks that he has lost them. Or has he? In the process, he has managed to get himself lost, and it is only then that he realizes that the cunning lemurs might just be helpful after all...

I am sure that this is a question that you must ask yourself at least once a day 'How do I lose that lemur?' and this book has the answer of course! 

The story is fun and children will love it. It has a (small) similarity to 'Going on a bear hunt' which is a firm favourite with children. The illustrations are great, telling the story without the words, which means younger children can also 'read' the story themselves.  There are lots of lemurs throughout the story and children would enjoy counting them on each page, trying to find any that may be hiding - a great game to encourage interaction with the book. 

I really like this author, Frann Preston-Gannon, and would recommend lovers of this book try another of her books Dinosaur Farm 

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

Step Back In Time by Ali McNamara

Step Back in Time

How many lifetimes would you travel to find a love that lasts for ever? When single career girl Jo-Jo steps onto a zebra crossing and gets hit by a car, she awakes to find herself in 1963. The fashion, the music, her job, even her romantic life: everything is different. And then it happens three more times, and Jo-Jo finds herself living a completely new life in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The only people she can rely on are Harry and Ellie, two companions from 2013, and George, the owner of a second-hand record store. If she's ever to return from her travels, Jo-Jo must work out why she's jumping through time like this. And if she does make it back, will her old life ever be the same again? Step back in time with this fabulously fun and feed-good comedy of time travel and romance, from the author of From Notting Hill with Love ...Actually

I have read all of Ali McNamara's books and I can honestly say that I have never read a bad one and this one lived up to my high expectations too!! 

The plot line is really clever. I really enjoyed the time travel - it was nothing like Doctor Who, which I really do not like - and fitted well into the story. It is a nice love story, something different to what is in the book charts at the current time. It is a book that you can loose yourself in one weekend and reminisce about times, music and fashions gone by.

There is a clever strand interwoven throughout this story which I picked up a few of the clues but did not get them all, however when I got to the end of the book and it all unraveled I thought it was fantastic! I am sure lots of other readers would of picked up on a lot more of them. It was a great ending to the book and well done to Ali McNamara for all the research and clever techniques used to interweave it all into the story.

This is one of those books that can be picked up and while reading it it brings back lots of memories; the clothes, the hair styles, the music (I would love to have visited George's shop) and the social history - how people lived - all bring back memories off my childhood. 

I must add one thing on the end of this review. I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reading Copy of this book, which had a slightly different front cover featuring four Jo-Jo's walking across the zebra crossing in the four fashions of the decades she time travels to. I loved the cover on the proof and I am not so keen on the cover chosen for publication. However this has nothing to do with the actual novel and therefore should not sway anyone's opinion on this fantastic read!

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

Alice through the looking glass by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

Alice Through the Looking Glass - Best-Loved Classics

The sequel to Alice in Wonderland. Step through the Looking-glass into a topsy-turvy, magical world in this gloriously illustrated picture book re-telling of Lewis Carroll's enduring classic, from the highly-regarded, prize-winning illustrator of Blue Kangaroo and Melrose and Croc. A LUXURIOUS GIFT BOOK THAT NO CHILD'S LIBRARY SHOULD BE WITHOUT! In this magnificent sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Alice walks through a mirror straight into the back-to-front Looking-glass Kingdom. There she meets a collection of even 'curiouser' characters than before; the walrus and the carpenter, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Humpty Dumpty, the White Knight and the Red Queen, to name but a few. But nothing is quite what it seems...

If you are looking to give a gift of a book to a child, this one would be a perfect choice. This hardback edition is a lovely keepsake, one which can be kept to pass on to their children and so on.

The story is the traditional tale, as written by Lewis Carroll, a sequel to Alice in Wonderland. The story is retold in this book and is suitable for older children as there is alot of text on each page, however as the tale is a great story to tell, it is a beautiful edition. 

This edition has been illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark. The illustrations are beautiful. As I have already said, this edition is suitable for a slightly older child and I think that the illustrations will also suit this age of child. There are no Disney, cartoon style illustrations, instead Emma Chichester Clark has drawn beautiful illustrations. The setting looks like any English countryside. Alice looks life like and an ordinary girl who could be seen walking down any street. The rest of the characters are also well drawn, no cartoon animals in sight, instead look realistic and life like with that extra special Lewis Carroll magic woven in throughout each character.

This is definitely a book to give as a special present, as a keepsake, one which will put on a shelf and taken down to look at and share at every opportunity for children aged 7+.

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

Check out this video of the illustrator, Emma Chichester Clark, talking about this project: 

Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr and Ben Cort

Octopus's Garden

Based on the lyrics of the world famous Beatles song, this glorious picture book follows five children on a magical journey through the Octopus's garden. The playful Octopus takes them on a wondrous underwater adventure - riding on the backs of turtles, playing pirates in a sunken city and sheltering from a storm in the octopus's cave.

Written by Ringo Starr, this book has been based on the popular Beatles song lyrics. It is a fantastic book which children will love looking at (or listening to , as the hardback copy I have has a CD included which has the song and the book narrated by Ringo Starr himself, although whenever I hear his voice I expect to see Thomas the Tank Engine and the Fat Controller). The illustrations throughout the book are brilliant - they are bright and cheerful and would look brilliant on any children's bedroom. I especially love the page where all the sea anemones are, it would look perfect with a little glitter spread throughout too.

An interesting feature to the book is that not all the double page spreads are landscape, some have to be turned to portrait to read the words, something I have not seen in many books, and I thought it was just a little bit different. 

It is a good book for Beatles fans to give to children or for any one who wants to pass on a great story with a strong rhythm and easy for children to join in with.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Books for sending me the book to review.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Silent Night by Jack Sheffield

Silent Night

1984 - and it's an important time for the children of Ragley-on-the Forest school...Their school choir is to sing a carol in a church in York, and is actually going to be on television! Helping to keep his excited children, not to mention their parents, under control during these momentous events taxes jack and his staff to the limit. And at the same time, Jack has his own problems to deal with...

This is the eighth book in the popular series written by Jack Sheffield. Set in a village school in Ragley on the Forest, the head teacher, Mr Sheffield, is set for a new school year at Ragley School while his wife, Beth sets her sights on a new challenge for either herself or Jack at a larger school.

I usually look forward to the next installment at Ragley school each January, however this year it came out a month earlier, and I eagerly devoured it. As usual, Sheffield's writing is fantastic, as he writes his 'alternative school logbook'.  Although the logbook is for the school, villagers are always popping in and out of storylines and I enjoy past characters popping in, catching up on gossip and going about their daily lives. And as ever, although this book is fiction, it is a great account of social history as Sheffield ensures the villagers of Ragley celebrate current trends and react to news stories from 1984.

There is a double wedding this year - the two binmen; Big Dave Robinson and Little Malcolm Robinson both marry and Ruby, the school's caretaker, has a bench to remember her husband, Ron Smith, installed on the village green. There is an Elvis competition in the village hall and a Belly Dancing for Beginners class is held in the Coffee Shop for Ragley's Ladies. 

As ever there is a busy life within Ragley and I love revisiting the village each year. The books can easily be read as standalone stories however I really enjoy it as a series. They are easy to loose yourself in one Sunday afternoon, where characters become old friends. Sheffield has done lots of research for these books, each one a record of a life not only in Ragley, but the highlights of British history, social trends and news stories of the time.  This one is set in the back drop of Thatcher's Britain and the miner's strikes.

In this book, there is a shift in the power dynamics of Jack and Beth's marriage. Beth wants more from life, a bigger house etc, but to get this, one of them needs a promotion - however village headteachers can not progress higher in their own schools or villages but must look to towns or cities for a new school. Jack does not want to make this promotion, settled as he is in Ragley and therefore it is Beth who steps up for promotion, which in itself is history in the making with females not being offered such promotions in 1984.

As ever, village life within Ragley is full on highs and lows, but throughout it all, the children are the heart of the village and their little outbursts and words of wisdom litter the story, which will leave the reader laughing out loud at a moments notice. 

In summary, Jack Sheffield has written another fantastic installment in Ragley School's alternative logbook and I am already looking forward to the next installment already!

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

Christmas at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown

Christmas at Carrington's

A deliciously indulgent read and the follow up to Cupcakes at Carrington's. Set in Carrington's Department Store this is perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan. Georgie Hart loves Christmas time at Carrington's Department store. Running the luxury handbag department, Georgie adores helping customers in the hunt for the perfect gift for the perfect someone. And this year is no exception - now she has the hunky Tom, Mr Carrington himself, to spend the special day with. But when Tom springs a surprise, Georgie's plans are thrown into chaos. Carrington's is getting a fresh lease of life in a hot new reality TV show, featuring formidable retail guru, Kelly Cooper. As the first show airs, Georgie is shown in a far from flattering light. Worse is to come when Kelly's vile daughter appears to get her claws into Tom. Georgie fears this will be the worst Christmas ever, but Santa still has a little surprise for her stocking this year - she'll just have to wait until Christmas to find out...

I first visited the the Carrington's department store last year. Cupcakes at Carrington's was author, Alexandra Brown's, debut novel and was one that I enjoyed immensely leaving me eagerly waiting the next installment in the promised trilogy and again, Alexandra Brown has delivered a brilliant novel.

Christmas at Carrington's finds us back at Carrington's, Georgie is happy in the beginnings of her relationship with Mr Carrington and looking forward to Christmas. However, a reality TV show lands in Carrington's and day to day life for both the store and the staff is not the same again.

I had saved this book to read over Christmas and I was not disappointed. it was great to go back through the doors of Carrington's and catching up with staff members. As well as regular characters from book 1, there are new characters, mainly from the production company who are making the programme; most of whom I had an instant dislike to.  I was upset that Tom Carrington's relationship with Georgie did not continue through the book, however with many hunky actors walking Carrington's shop floor I was hopefully one would catch her eye. It was great to see that Sam, owner of the cafe, and Georgie's closest friend also featured heavily within the book, never far from Georgie's side. 

Although this book has Christmas in the title, most of the story is not festive - the grand finale is the Christmas party but it could be read at anytime of the year and enjoyed.  All the beautiful and expensive bags that Georgie sells would make a great shopping list for any bagaholic! 

There is lots of humour throughout the story, Eddie, Mr Carrington's personal assistant, provides much of this and I would love to meet him. He reminds me of Are you being served? - I imagine him as a cross between Mrs Slocambe and Mr Humphries. His scenes  always left me with a smile on my face. 

Alexandra Brown has written a fantastic second novel. She has continued to bring Carrington's to life and has managed to include Britain's love of docu soaps and fly on the wall documentaries within the book.  However, there are also great storylines outside of Carrington's: Georgie's relationship with her father and Sam's desire for a baby to name two. 

The third installment, Ice Cream at Carrington's, is due for release in June 2014 - I will be placing this on my 'Books to look forward to in 2014' list. There are so many directions that this could go in and I look forward to seeing what Alexandra has planned for Georgie, Sam and Tom!

This book is the second book in the trilogy and I would recommend reading Cupcakes at Carrington's first, however it is possible to read this as a standalone book if preferred. 

The book finishes with a number of delicious sounding recipes from Sam's cafe and also Georgie's guide to the perfect festive party. I love when the book contains extras written by the characters.

Thank you to the publishers, Harper Collins and Net Galley, for providing me with a copy of the book to review.

The Big Hearted Book by Nicholas Allan

The Big Hearted Book

Babette and Bill are joined by a ribbon of hearts. They are always together through thick and thin. But when Babette falls ill, the two friends are parted and they are both broken hearted. Until they discover that even when they can't see the ribbon of hearts it is always there pulling them together. Warm, poignant and funny, this book is a wonderful celebration of friendship. A sensitive and beautifully told story written in association with the International Children's Heart Foundation that will touch anyone affected by illness. The mission of the International Children's Heart Foundation is to bring the skills, technology and knowledge to diagnose and care for children with congenital heart disease to developing countries. 'Endlessly inventive, Nicholas Allan knows just what appeals to young children.' Parents in Touch

Nicholas Allan has written a number of children's books, all of them fantastically written and have a great message within the story. This book has been written and published in support of The International Children's Heart Foundation.

The book tells the story of a friendship between a dog and a girl, who spend all their time together and do things together. Babette usually looks after Bill (the dog) but when she feels unwell and ends up in hospital, both are heart broken. However, the invisible ribbon of hearts that keep them together is never broken. A true story of friendship. It does not however, have the usual humour you expect from a Nicholas Allan storybook, instead it has a more serious message.  The story is accompanied by great illustrations, also by Nicholas Allan. 

I would recommend this as a great book to give as a gift. It is also a good resource which could be used to discuss friendship or a relative in hospital or of ill health and one which raises the profile of a worthwhile charity.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

What does the Fox Say? by Ylvis

What Does the Fox Say?

Dog goes woof. Cat goes meow. Bird goes tweet, and mouse goes squeak...But what does the fox say? Ylvis started working with the illustrator for this book before they had even uploaded the video to Youtube as they felt it had the potential to become an interesting book as well. As they say "The level of detail in Svein's drawings make the book fun to read over and over. Hopefully kids will enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed making it."

If, like me, you have primary school age children, the latest YouTube sensation, Ylvis and their catchy 'song', What does the fox say?, will have been going around your head for ages. Ylvis has joined forces with Svein Nyhis who has created the illustrations throughout the book, depicting all the animals within the song. 

The book is really just the song words to the song, which most children learn very quickly. I would not pick it up as a story book to read at storytime because the reader can not help but break into tune as they read the book aloud. The illustrations are not the usually friendly children's images, the animals have a strange style which I am not sure children will recognise. My nine year old son was not impressed with the illustrations. 

In summary, I would not buy this book as a story to share with children at story time, instead I would buy it as a gift for fans of the song or for children to look at when listening to the song.

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

The unbelievable top secret diary of pig by Emer Stamps

The Unbelievable Top-Secret Diary of Pig

We love Pig (we can't help it), but Pig loves Farmer, and he can't help it either. After all, Farmer gives Pig yummy slops and special back scratches, and calls him Sausage and seems to love him more, the fatter he gets. Just as well Pig doesn't speak any Farmer. But Duck does (Duck's clever like that), and he's determined his best friend should know the truth. This is tough for Pig. But Pig won't just sit there and weep (though we may do, on his behalf), because there's help from an unexpected quarter: the Evil Chickens have a plan...

This book is one of those that can be read by children and adults alike and each will get something different from it, but both will end up laughing until tears run from their eyes!

I love the style of the book - it looks like a notebook, with doodles on the cover and a handwritten text story, accompanied by fantastic pencil sketch illustrations.

The book would be suitable for children who are gaining confidence in reading alone but still like to have pictures breaking up big chunks of text. However, younger children will also enjoy listening to others reading them the story. It is definitely a book to share with others, otherwise they will keep asking why you are giggling out loud constantly throughout the book!

This is the ideal gift to give to a child, however I am sure it won't be long until the rest of the family will soon be reading it too!!

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

Mad about you - Sinead Moriarty

Mad About You

"The inevitable comparisons with Marian Keyes are justified and well deserved - Moriarty's characters are likeable, well developed and funny". (Heat). Sinead Moriarty's riveting new novel, Mad About You, will make every reader stop and think about the importance of trust in relationships - how fragile it can be, how easily damaged, how hard to repair. Sinead combines the storytelling genius of Jodi Picoult, and the compassion and humour of Marian Keyes, in a gripping story of contemporary marriage. Emma and James Hamilton have weathered lots of storms in their ten-year marriage. From the heartbreak of infertility, to the craziness of then becoming parents to two babies in one year, to coping with James losing his job, somehow they have always worked as a team. However, the pressure of moving from Dublin to London for James' new job - away from familiar surroundings and the family Emma loves - puts them under stress like never before. So when James starts getting texts from a stranger - texts that show startling insights into their lives - Emma is not sure what to think. She is far from home, isolated and before long finds herself questioning everything about their relationship. Maybe those texts are telling her the truth and the life she believed to be solid and secure is just a mirage. Somehow she has to get a grip, but how can she do that when a stranger is set on driving Emma out of her home and her marriage? "One of the brightest voices in modern women's fiction". (Bella). Sinead Moriarty lives with her family in Dublin. Her previous titles are: The Baby Trail; A Perfect Match; From Here to Maternity; In My Sister's Shoes; Keeping It In the Family (also titled Whose Life is it Anyway?); Pieces of My Heart , Me and My Sisters and This Child of Mine.

Sinead Moriarty is another of my favourite authors and I look forward to her new releases each year. It was great to pick up this latest release and be reacquainted with Emma and James Hamilton from Sinead's earlier novels, The Baby Trail and From Here to Maternity. A couple struggling to conceive and who adopted a young son from overseas. 

We return to the Hamilton family, Emma, James, their adopted son and their biological daughter. At the start of the book the family have moved from Dublin to London, a move due to James' new job, training London Irish rugby team. It is great to see that Moriarty has acknowledged the difficulties and emotional wrench in moving away from family and the security of Emma's group of friends.

Emma has a sister, Babs, who lives in London and is the host on a makeover programme. She manages to get Emma a job as the programme's make up artist. Although this is great for Emma, she has to consider childcare and the immediate start on the job leaves Emma feeling guilty about not being there to settle her children into their new nursery. A neighbour mentions that a friends daughter is looking for work and is good with children. After interviewing for a nanny, it is decided to go with the daughter of a friends friend. The story continues, the children and the nanny are both happy, Emma has her job which she is enjoying, and James is working hard to get the London Irish rugby team to win their first game. 

It is during this time that Emma receives a parcel containing an intimate gift and a worrying note. Could James be playing away? Emma continues to receive these personal gifts, along with disturbing anonymous text messages. Would James really be playing away or is malice involved?

I really enjoyed this book and although I guessed the identity of person sending the parcels and text messages quite early on, it did not ruin the rest of the book. I really believe that Moriarty has written a very real story. The feelings of the whole family have been portrayed from day one when they uprooted from Ireland to live in London. The effect of Emma beginning a new job, meaning the children had a nanny to take them to and from a new nursery, family life being disrupted, James working very long hours, the doubt in Emma's life, which affected more than just Emma and James. It sends the reader on a roller coaster of emotions, who should they give their support to? and who is in the wrong?  There are many of the pitfalls of modern day family life throughout this story and reminds the reader of the real values of family life.  

There are lots of times of humour littered throughout the story, which is something Moriarty does brilliantly although they do not take anything away from the real story - one of family life and all the temptations that exist in the outside world. 

Thank you to Penguin Ireland who sent me an ARC through a Goodreads giveaway and Netgalley.

Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson

Take a Look at Me Now

How far would you go to make a new start? Heart-warming and romantic, Take a Look at Me Now will make you laugh, cry and cheer Nell on from start to finish. What a difference a day makes...Nell Sullivan has always been known as 'Miss Five-Year Plan'. But when she finds herself jobless and newly single on the same day, Nell decides it is time to stop planning and start taking chances. Nell blows her redundancy cheque on a trip of lifetime to a place where anything is possible - San Francisco. There she meets a host of colourful characters, including the intriguing and gorgeous Max. Very soon the city begins to feel like Nell's second home. But when it's time to return to London, will she leave the 'new Nell' behind? And can the magic of San Francisco continue to sparkle thousands of miles away?

I really enjoy Miranda Dickinson's books and look forward to her new releases each year. Her books are well written, with a good storyline throughout the book. 

This book starts with, what many people would say was their worst nightmare. Nell has recently split up with her long term boyfriend, who is also her boss at work, and when she is called into his office one morning, does not expect to be told she, along with many of her work colleagues, is being made redundant. She decides to visit her cousin in San Francisco for eight weeks and forget all her problems until she returns. What she didn't expect, was to meet Max and when she leaves for home, she also leaves a piece of her heart. After her return home, Nell decides to follow her dreams of opening her own restaurant/diner and when help arrives from a surprising source she does not expect what happens next.

I have never been to San Francisco and have never really known anything about the city or surrounding area, however after reading and loosing myself in the book I found myself wanting to know more about the area. This was due to the infectious storytelling style of Dickinson's writing. I enjoyed Nell's travels around the area and would love to visit there myself one day.

The story was well written, with strong characters throughout. The storytelling is fantastic and I really enjoyed the tours around San Francisco and the descriptions of the mysterious pavement art which regularly appears around the city. 

Having met Miranda at a local book signing and watching her vlogs online I can hear Miranda throughout the book.. Her infectious laughter and excited chat is throughout the story.

I have recommended this book to lots of my friends and I recommend it to all my blog readers too - it is a fantastic read! Miranda Dickinson is a fantastic author and she brings a smile to my face every time I pick up one of her books.

I received this book through Netgalley. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

This classic story of Sophie and her extraordinary tea-time guest has been loved by millions of children since it was first published over 40 years ago. Now celebrate the 90th birthday of Judith Kerr OBE with this beautiful slipcase gift edition of the timeless classic.

The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don't expect to see at the door is a big furry, stripy tiger!

This modern classic picture book is perfect for reading aloud, or for small children to read to themselves time and again. This beautifully packaged and giftable slipcase edition is the perfect way to celebrate the timeless appeal of this classic book.

The Tiger who came to tea is a favourite story book for children of all ages and this beautiful slipcase hardback edition has been published to celebrate the author, Judith Kerr's, 90th birthday.

The slipcase makes the book look even more expensive and would make a beautiful present to mark a birth, a christening or birthday.

The book was originally written and published back in 1968. Judith has both written the story and drawn all the illustrations within the book. The story is still today as popular as it was 45 years ago. Neither the story nor the illustrations look or sound dated. The illustrations are brightly coloured and look fantastic. 

This is a beautiful book which and is a gift that can be shared at special times and kept until adult years and be read to their own children.

I received this book from the publishers, Harper Collins Children's Books, in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore

The Silent Tide

When Emily Gordon, editor at a London publishing house, commissions an account of great English novelist Hugh Morton, she finds herself steering a tricky path between Morton's formidable widow, Jacqueline, who's determined to protect his secrets, and the biographer, charming and ambitious Joel Richards. But someone is sending Emily mysterious missives about Hugh Morton's past and she discovers a buried story that simply has to be told… One winter's day in 1948, nineteen year old Isabel Barber arrives at her Aunt Penelope's house in Earl's Court having run away from home to follow her star. A chance meeting with an East European refugee poet leads to a job with his publisher, McKinnon & Holt, and a fascinating career beckons. But when she develops a close editorial relationship with charismatic young debut novelist Hugh Morton and the professional becomes passionately personal, not only are all her plans put to flight, but she finds herself in a struggle for her very survival. Rachel Hore's intriguing and suspenseful new novel magnificently evokes the milieux of London publishing past and present and connects the very different worlds of two young women, Emily and Isabel, who through their individual quests for truth, love and happiness become inextricably linked.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones) by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

When Helen Fielding first wrote Bridget Jones' Diary, charting the life of a 30-something singleton in London in the 1990s, she introduced readers to one of the most beloved characters in modern literature. The book was published in 40 countries, sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, and spawned a best-selling sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. The two books were turned into major blockbuster films starring Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.
With her hotly anticipated third instalment, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Fielding introduces us to a whole new enticing phase of Bridget's life set in contemporary London, including the challenges of maintaining sex appeal as the years roll by and the nightmare of drunken texting, the skinny jean, the disastrous email cc, total lack of twitter followers, and TVs that need 90 buttons and three remotes to simply turn on.
An uproariously funny novel of modern life, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is a triumphant return of our favourite Everywoman.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Herman's Letter by Tom Percival

Herman's Letter

What do you do when your best friend in the whole wide world has to move a long way away? Promise to write to each other ALL the time and to stay best friends FOREVER, that's what. But it's easier said than done - especially when your best friend seems to be having much more fun than you are ...Join Herman the bear as he embarks upon one epic journey to deliver a very special letter and to ensure that his friendship with Henry the raccoon really is FOREVER.

I loved this book - Herman is an adorable character and his friend Henry the raccoon is fantastic friend. It bought back childhood memories to me because when I was in primary school, my best (boy)friend moved from the midlands to Scotland and we wrote to each other for years -on our favourite Mr Men writing paper. Nowadays though, children who have friends who have moved away will keep in contact via skype or email. If I suggest to my children to sit down and write a letter they don't know what to do. However this book really shows the importance of letters to bring news. I also really liked that the letters were stuck in the book - folded over for little hands to open. They also look like real letters - address and stamp on the outside and stamped as if delivered. 

It is a beautiful book to give as a gift this Christmas and hopefully will encourage lots of children to start letter writing and sending them to friends.

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

Practical Child Law for Social Workers by Clare Seymour and Richard Seymour

Practical Child Law for Social Workers

The UK legal system in the area of social work with children and families can be bewildering and complex and it is vital therefore that any textbook on the subject uses case law, case studies and research to critically-engage social workers and students alike. This book does just that - by examining, and putting into clear practical context, the current law and policy relating to social work with children and families. A guide for both students on placement as well as Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSWs) entering their first roles within children and families teams, Practical Child Law for Social Workers is essential reading for a fast-paced and complex area of social work.

I work within the Children's Services sector of a county council and although I do not work within a social worker role, I am regularly in contact with children and their families and therefore need to be aware of Safeguarding policies and procedures. I am also currently studying at university towards a degree in Early Years Studies and therefore have found this book to be a very informative and interesting to read.

The book is split into sections: Rights; Responsibilities; Relationships; Participation; Support; Protection; Substitute Care; Permanence; Independence; and Cooperation. All topics which are regularly considered within the role of workers who work with children and are covered within courses and assignments.

I found the book to be well laid out, with each chapter having clearly identified and presented objectives at the start of the chapter. The chapters all contain activities and legal case studies which relate to the chapter contents, along with research summaries and suggested further reading for each subject. 

The chapters are well laid out, text being broken up with summaries or activities to make practitioners think and reflect upon what they have read. The case studies are well chosen to illustrate the law discussed and referenced for readers who want to look more in depth. 

I think that this is a great book for anyone who is working within the safeguarding of children, child protection, family support or social work sectors. It is also great for university students although I do think that more in depth texts may be needed - however great as a first point of call when researching or planning  assignments.

I received this book through The Amazon Vine Programme. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Ella's Ktchen- The Cook Book - The Red One

Ella's Kitchen: The Cookbook: The Red One

Ella's Kitchen is the fastest growing brand in the UK baby food sector and this new title, Ella's Kitchen: The Cookbook: The Red One, is the first in a series of books aimed at creating nutritious, convenient food that kids (and their parents) will love. 100 yummy recipes to inspire big and little cooks, ranging from the easiest of snacks and light meals that can be rustled up in minutes to delicious and satisfying dinners. Interesting twists and clever shortcuts, such as salmon fillets baked in parcels and sweet and sour prawns, make life as easy as possible for busy parents. For weekends and holidays, when there is a bit more time available, there are leisurely breakfast recipes such as Blueberry Pancakes and more involved cooking projects such as a Pasta Weekend. With an emphasis on involving kids as much as possible, the book includes easy prep tasks throughout, as well as fun activities, from growing your own window-box plants to getting creative with vegetable prints. Colour-in pages and stickers also mean that kids will love it as much as their parents do.

Weaning and preparing food babies and young babies can be a minefield, one which first time mums can find a daunting and scary. There are so many different schools of thought - baby led weaning or the more traditional idea of introducing foods slowly, one at a time, with the consistency getting lumpier. However a parent decides to approach weaning, one thing is a necessity, a recipe book of inspiration - one which gives ideas of different tastes and textures to try, but that also offers inspiring presentation ideas; not endless bowls of mushed up food but also not one which makes shapes and pictures out of each meal.

The authors of the book, Alison and Paul Lindley, are the founders of Ella's Kitchen, who, over thirteen years ago, were parents to a baby, Ella, who, while watching their own child grow and become confident with food, left their jobs and created a range of foods for babies, toddlers and young children.

The book is well presented and layed out. It is brightly coloured and packed full of useful information and tasty recipes. As I have previously stated, there are differing thoughts to weaning and all parents should talk to their health visitors about current guidelines concerning weaning before deciding upon the road they will follow with their own child.

There is a great section on first foods for babies. It has lots of useful hints and tips - those tips that mothers find out by chance, written down ready for new mums, and lots of ideas for new tastes to try.  There is a section on going from mush to mash and also going on to 'proper' food. There are also hints and tips about allowing your baby to explore food and how to encourage them to try new things - making it look nice, interacting with your child at meal times and using all senses at meal time. 

The ingredients included in the recipes are all healthy and are easy to find in supermarkets and kitchen cupboards, something which is important when making up batches of food for the freezer. 

The book includes recipes for meals, but also snacks, which is often where new mums struggle for ideas.

Recipes are split into useful chapters: yummy lunches and speedy snacks; dee-licious dinners; perfect puds; scrummy treats; and hooray for the weekend. Each recipe has a 'what you need' section and also has quick and easy guides for: number of servings; prep time; and cooking time. There is a brief introduction to most recipes which describes the dish, along with suggestions for variations and suggestions for fussy eaters.  Some recipes have Ella's shortcuts, which mention Ella's Kitchen products which could be used to quicken prep time. There are also ideas in some recipes for steps which children could help with to encourage them to help prepare their own meals.

There is also a page at the back of the book of fantastic stickers for children. These are brightly coloured, as is the whole book. It is easy to follow and full of photographs of the food to help children choose what they would like to make.

I would definitely recommend this book as the perfect gift for new parents who are beginning to think about weaning. However, it is important to mention that parents should follow advice given by Health Professionals as recommendations can change (I know in the two years between my children weaning, recommendations did change). Although this book is by Ella's Kitchen it is not constantly pushing it's own products, only suggesting in some recipes, their own products for quickness, however instructions are always given for using fresh produce to make your own. It has lots of recipes and these will become firm favourites of children and can be used for years to come after weaning has been successful.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Puppy's First Christmas by Steve Smallman and Alison Edgson

Puppy's First Christmas

"Something weird is happening," cries Puppy. "Mum's going bonkers in the kitchen, and there are socks on the wall and a huge tree INSIDE the house!" "Relax," says Cat. "It's Christmas Eve - it's like this every year!"

This is a great book for young children. It looks at Christmas and the run up through the eyes of a puppy. Why do they bring a tree inside and decorate it? Why do they hang socks up at night? It is a lighthearted book which children will enjoy looking at again and again. The story is written in rhyme and is perfect for story time.

The front cover has a beautiful picture on it and the hat is a soft touch insert, a luxurious addition to the book. There is also a couple of pictures of Father Christmas and a dog inside which has the same soft flock feel, making the book tactile which young children will like. 

This would make the perfect gift in the run up to Christmas for young pet lovers to enjoy.

Thank you to the publishers, Little Tiger Press, for sending me the book to review.

Guest Post - Rachel Hore - The Silent Tide

I am very pleased to welcome Rachel Hore to my blog today. Rachel has published a number of books and her latest book, The Silent Tide, was released last month. 

I asked Rachel where she gets inspiration for her books: 

A novelist’s inspiration 
As a novelist, I am often asked ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ Although I’m secretly tempted to answer ‘from the ideas shop, of course’, or ‘I forage for them in the woods’, I understand what the questioner is getting at.  A novel is, after all a complex castle in the air, that floats like ectoplasm from the writer’s imagination.  It’s perfectly reasonable for the reader to wonder what inspired the whole creation in the first place.
There are novelists such as J.K. Rowling, who famously tells us that the entire concept for the Harry Potter books came to her fully formed during the course of a train journey. Lucky her. There is though something about long journeys – the boredom, the repetitive rhythm of wheels or marching feet - that allows the mind to roam free.  I developed the whole plot of my first novel, The Dream House, whilst driving from Surrey to Norfolk on one luminous New Year’s afternoon, but I was only able to do so because I’d spent some months previous brooding on its themes and the characters to carry them, and had written a few practice paragraphs to see where they would take me. I suspect that most writers have similar experiences to me.
Ninety per cent of the ideas within a novel are the result of hard work: research and reading, scratching one’s head, writing, much crossing out and rewriting.  Occasionally there might come that flash-of-a-kingfisher moment of inspiration - what Henry James used to call a ‘donné’, a ‘gift’ of an idea – that every writer craves. In my experience these are rare, come from unexpected directions, and there’s no point in sitting around idly and waiting for them to show up. You need to get going first.  One kingfisher moment for The Dream House struck when I happened to read in our local paper about a house full of curiosities whose contents were being auctioned off.  A house of treasures became the central motif in my novel, but this inspiration came only after I’d started work on the book.
Writers view the world around them - and read the books of other writers - like magpies looking for shiny material, but each will alight on something different that represents some subject or theme of special interest to them.  In my case this is often simply a setting with a rich sense of history: an old house, perhaps, or a church or a particular landscape. Whichever, it has to be somewhere where I can begin to picture characters for the past and the present narratives that I like to combine.  In my new novel, The Silent Tide, I chose as my main settings two London publishing offices, one contemporary, the other from 1950.  It was then possible to muse on the very different worlds of Emily and Isabel, the women who worked in them, albeit seventy years apart, and to construct a story to link them. However, the whole framework of the novel only grew bit by bit, and frequently only during the actual writing process. One particularly exciting revelation came very late, when I was three-quarters of the way through the book.  It was clear that I needed to know my characters thoroughly first before I was ready to receive it.

The Silent Tide (Simon & Schuster) is published on 12 September 2013 in paperback and eBook.  Her website

Thank you Rachel for visiting my blog today. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Happy Birthday Mr Darcy by Victoria Connelly

You are cordially invited to a wedding at Purley Hall...

It’s the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s 'Pride and Prejudice' but it’s also a special year for Katherine Roberts and Warwick Lawton because they’re getting married.

But can Katherine put aside her fear about the future and can Warwick put his pen down long enough to actually make it up the aisle?

'Happy Birthday, Mr Darcy' is the fifth book in the Austen Addicts series - a light-hearted novella which follows 'A Weekend with Mr Darcy', 'The Perfect Hero' ('Dreaming of Mr Darcy'), 'Mr Darcy Forever' and 'Christmas with Mr Darcy'. The main characters Katherine Roberts and Warwick Lawton are due to be married at Purley Hall, where the romance began, a beautiful setting which will provide the perfect backdrop for the wedding, especially as the guests are being asked to dress in period outfits. With the perfect setting and day planned out, is everything and everyone ready for the wedding of the year??

I really enjoyed this book. It was great to return to Purley Hall for such a happy occasion  Through Connelly's prose it was easy to picture the scene and I would of loved to be part of the big day. It is evident throughout her books that she is a true Austen fan, with quotes and references to Austen's books throughout her stories, all of which make the stories more special. 

As the book is about the wedding of two main characters, it is great to catch up with many of the other characters which the readers have met throughout this series as they return as guests to the wedding. 

This book is part of a series and although it is great to read them in order, meeting each character and following Katherine and Warwick through their romance, this book could be read as a standalone. Although I am sure that if this is the first book in the series that you have read, it won't be your last as you will be buying the rest of the series and starting from the beginning. 

I am hoping that Connelly will be publishing the next installment in this fantastic series soon as I love these characters and can't wait to find out what happens next.

I received this eBook from the author in return for an honest review. 

Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever!

Biggest Word Book Ever

This really is the biggest word book ever - it's as tall as a toddler and packed with fun! Each beautifully illustrated spread is packed with Scarry's charming animal creatures enjoying Busytown, carrying out a variety of jobs, riding in their cars and trucks, trains and planes and generally enjoying life. Each spread contains key words for the animals, objects, actions and more. Learning has never been so much fun. Books have never been so big!

Re-released to celebrate  entertaining children for over fifty years, Richard Scarry's biggest word book ever is a 'huuuuuuuuuuuge' book. It is a book that toddlers or small children could hide inside! 

The book is crammed full of pictures which have items labelled - great to encourage young children to talk and try and new vocabulary. There are sections on Busytown, including shops and vehicles; the fire service; houses and homes; farms, including fruit and vegetables; construction sites; boats, the beach; and airports and aeroplanes. Most of the words are as we would say in English, however there are some 'Americanisms'.

There are hundreds of words within the book. The pictures can be used as a game with young children, testing their vocab in a fun way. Every time children look at the book they will spot different things in the pictures - rather than being a scene, they are busy pictures with lots of different illustrations within a page.

This would be great for a nursery,school or playgroup. Because of its size it would be difficult to share at a cosy story-time although is fantastic for laying on the floor and looking at in that way.

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

Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties (Amelie and Nanette) by Sophie Tilley

Amelie and Nanette: Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties

Amelie and Nanette are best friends, and have been FOREVER. Because there is nothing nicer than having a best friend to share your secrets and adventures with. 

Everyone will be charmed by the wonderfully nostalgic, delightfully innocent and enchantingly carefree world of Amelie and Nanette. Their lives are rich with adventure, sometimes good, sometimes bad (and sometimes a little sad) but always mixed with laughter. From riverside picnics and seaside capers to cake-baking marathons and dressing-up, there's an adventure around every corner. And, even when things go wrong, there's nothing so awful that their friendship (and a big hug) can't make better.

This is a beautiful hardback book which would make a beautiful gift for any young girl. As well as being a hardback book, the inside of the book is also of high quality;the inside of the front and back cover have an almost fabric effect print, giving the look of an old heirloom book. The story is printed in a style similar to that used in children's books from decades ago. The images have a twee style and the colours throughout are soft and pastel - reminiscent of French chic farmhouse design. It really is a beautiful book, and one which I think will still look classic in years to come.

The story is one of friendship and about choosing a pair of shoes!!! There is also pretty dresses and picnics with friends.  It is a lovely story and one which will be read again and again, being a favourite book to share with friends and peers. 

It would make a great gift for friends to give to each other and to be treasured for a long time to come.

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

The Black and White Club by Alice Hemming

The Black and White Club

At Heavenly Hippo Wildlife Park the penguins have started up a new club...but only the black and white animals are invited. Feeling left out, George the Giraffe comes up with his own scheme.

This book bought a smile to my face as I read it. In today's modern world there are so many different nationalities, cultures and differences in appearances that this book is one that should be included in every school.

The penguins have started a new club; one where members are have to be black and white, or black, or white. However, George the Giraffe, felt left out and started his own club - after much consideration his club was the tall and short club, a club which everyone is able to be a member of.  

It is a great story, which can be used to explain to children how we can all be different but are always able to part of a club or team. It looks at differences and similarities in a child friendly way which is very important in today's society.

The story is well written and will appeal to children of nursery and reception age. The illustrations are beautiful and created by Kimberley Scott. Brightly coloured and accompany the story well. The animals have a cartoony style to them and will appeal to children. 

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

Can You Dance to the Boogaloo? by Alice V Lickens

Can You Dance to the Boogaloo?

* Alice Lickens is the second UK recipient of the prestigious Sendak Fellowship and has just returned from her month in residence at Maurice Sendak's house in Connecticut USA * A feel-good rhythmical book that's a bright and fun read! * About getting up and moving - a book that celebrates music and dance * Bright and colourful illustrations using a combination of ink and lino prints This feel-good, get-up-and-move story is about breaking out of boundaries. It is designed to explore the get up and go every child has burning within them. The colourful creatures pick up instruments, gathering in number and dancing through the pages finishing off with a dancing-on-the-rooftops night scene. The rhythmical approach sets the pace to the jig and is complemented by the sounds of both the instruments and animals wraparound. Children can also learn the names and sounds of the instruments seen through the pages and join in, in their own way, with the veritable hullabaloo. Approximately 300 words Age range: 3-6 years

Children enjoy dancing and musical instruments and this book combines these with a great story. The book immediately introduces children to a range of musical instruments and the sounds they make. They are played by animals throughout the book. The rhythm of the story immediately gets the reader in the Boogaloo swing!

The illustrations include lots of animals, all playing instruments and dancing to the Boogaloo. I think that they have a tribal style to them which looks fantastic. There is so much inspiration and possibilities given by this book that I think it would make a great gift for children of all ages.

There are few words to the story but it is a good book to introduce children to sounds and dance. I could see my children's primary school using this story to encourage children to make up their own dance moves using the animals for inspiration and playing the instruments to make up their own beat.

Thank you to the publisher, Ben Cameron at Anova Books, for sending me this book to review.

Miss Dorothy-Jane was ever so vain by Julie Fulton

Miss Dorothy-Jane Was Ever So Vain - The Ever So Series

Dorothy-Jane thinks her good looks and stylish clothes make her popular. However when on her way to Hamilton Shady's Best Lady Competition, Dorothy-Jane must put aside her vanity to save the day.

This is the third book in the series by Julie Fulton: Mrs MacCready was ever so Greedy and Tabitha Posy was ever so Nosy have both been reviewed on this blog. As with the previous two books, the story is told in rhyme and is accompanied with fantastic illustrations by Jona Jung.

The story is about Miss Dorothy Jane who likes to take care of her appearance and when she sees a competition to find Hamilton Shady's Best Lady, where the winner will present a bouquet to the Queen when she visits, she decides to enter and takes a long time to decide upon the perfect outfit. Very carefully she walks to the competition, dodging seagulls in the air and cars driving through puddles, however as she gets to the park, where a dog is stuck in a pond - will she rescue the dog or go to the competition?

As with the previous books, this story is great, the rhyme will appeal to children of all ages and the illustrations accompany the story perfectly. I liked the story, it had it's own moral, as do all of Julie's story, and reminded us that man is animal's best friend. 

I am sure that this book will soon become a firm favourite of children of all ages, whether they read it themselves or listen to others reading to them. The story is a good story and the illustrations are the perfect accompaniment, Jona Jung has captured the fun and energy within the illustrations perfectly.

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

Ten Twinkly Stars illustrated by Russell Julian

Ten Twinkly Stars - Moulded Counting Books 10

This fantastic counting book with a sweet night-time story is perfect for parents to read with their toddlers before nap time or bedtime. As night falls around the world, count the twinkly stars as one-by-one they disappear over the sleepy animals' heads. A fantastic book for toddlers learning first numbers, Ten Twinkly Stars will help children learn to count down from ten as each sleepy animal goes to bed. With shiny stars that little fingers will love to feel as they count down. As each page turns one less star is visible helping to illustrate the concept of counting down. Also available: Ten Little Kisses and Ten Shiny Snowflakes.

I have seen a number of books by Caterpillar Books in this style and they are fantastic. Great rhymes which children will enjoy listening to and later reciting.  These books are very clever as the number of stars on each page decreases as the story counts down from 10 to 1 stars and I always marvel at the clever idea of how the book is put together.

This book instantly drew me to it as I have a thing for Owls, and these are so cute, but once you open the book there are lots more animals inside and are animals from all over the world: lions in the jungle, hippos in the swamp,lambs in the field and giraffes in the Savannah to name but a few. 

The illustrations are also beautifully drawn and would make fantastic images for any children's bedrooms. They have a child friendly appearance but are all lifelike too.

This would make a great gift this winter. The book has thick pages (not board pages) making it perfect for children's hands and not easily ripped. Children enjoy turning the pages of books themselves and this is a book that I would confidently let children have all the time (I have a special book shelf which contains 'precious' books that I don't want damaged and are got down to share together) but this is one that could be out all of the time.

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

Richard Scarry's Best Lowly Worm Book Ever!

Best Lowly Worm Book Ever

Newly unearthed! The first new Richard Scarry book for over 20 years features Lowly Worm and all your favourite Scarry characters! Drawn and written by Richard Scarry and completed by his son, Huck Scarry, this beautiful book is packed with charm, humour and delightful pictures. Including a day in the life of Lowly Worm, Lowly on the farm, cars and trucks, planes and trains, numbers and a fun where's Lowly section. Scarry fans young and old will adore this charming and beautiful book!

I love books which have added 'spot the .....' on every page. This one has Spot Lowly on ever page. They are perfect for children and encourages them to look closely at each page, looking at the detail of each picture, and holding their attention. I know my children would continually pick these books off the shelf and find them together, although it often turned into a race of who could find it first.

I love the idea that this book was started by Richard Scarry and then completed by Huck Scarry many years later.

The book has many double page spreads, each of which concentrates on topics which children enjoy looking at or doing at school; Getting  up; Going to school; Good manners; Counting  A visit to the farm; Travelling on transport; Things I can do and Play Hide and Seek with Lowly. The pages are jam packed with illustrations and have so many talking points, making it perfect for circle time conversations or at those special one-to-one time. 

The only downside to this book is that it is American and therefore some of the words used are not what we would call them - however it is easy to use the English alternative and therefore I think it still a great book

A great book for schools and nurseries, however it would also make a great book for any child, especially those starting school for the first time this September.

A great book by Richard Scarry, and it is as good now and as relevant now as when the original books were released twenty years ago. 

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