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Monday, 29 April 2013

Dirty Bertie - 10 Years of Making Mischief

Dirty Bertie's Birthday Blog Tour!
Dirty Bertie is 10 years old this year - Stripes Publishing is celebrating 10 years of one of the most mischievous troublemakers ever! Bertie delights children with his crazy plans, madcap ideas, and of course, disgusting habits. An expert in all things yukky, there's nothing Bertie likes more than to be surrounded by worms, fleas, bogeys, burps and suspicious smells..... and if his enthusiastic young readers are anything to go by, he's not alone!

Created by one of the UK's foremost children's illustrators, David Roberts, Bertie is the star of two picture books 'Dirty Bertie' and 'Pooh! Is that you Bertie?' as well as a fabulously funny young fiction spin-off series, established in 2006. The Bertie Brand has proved hugely popular, with series sales of over 400,000 copies to date.

I have reviewed a number of Dirty Bertie books on this blog: PiratePongSnowOuch, and Fangs. They are fantastic books for children, especially boys, although girls are big fans too. Perfect for children who are growing in confidence reading alone, one step on from Early Readers. Chapter books which are ideal in length for a child to read a chapter a night or to be shared with younger children during story time, introducing the ideas of chapters. 

Why not introduce a child to the world of Dirty Bertie and help celebrate ten years in print for Dirty Bertie! Ideal for fans of Horrid Henry and Just William.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

Billy and Me

Billy and Me is a gorgeously romantic debut novel about the redemptive power of love by actress, journalist and blogger Giovanna Fletcher. Sophie May has a secret. One that she's successfully kept for years. It's meant that she's had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop. But then she meets the gorgeous Billy - an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy's glamorous - but ruthless - world. Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation? Charming, heartwarming and utterly romantic, Billy and Me will completely capture your heart. 'A gorgeous, gloriously romantic read with buckets of charm - I absolutely loved it!' Jill Mansell Actress and freelance journalist, Giovanna is married to Tom Fletcher from McFly. She grew up in Essex with her Italian dad Mario, mum Kim, big sister Giorgina and little brother Mario, and spent most of her childhood talking to herself (it seems no one wanted to listen) or reading books. Giovanna is a firm believer in the power of magpies and positive energy.

This is a fantastic read written by an author as her debut novel. 

When a famous TV star walks into Tea on the Hill one morning, Sophie does not know who he is, but there is a connection between them both and what follows is a beautiful love story which is hampered by press intrusion. They do end up splitting and it is not until Sophie's close friend dies that they are bought back together, but will they end up back together???

The book is really well written and I found myself devouring chapter after chapter each night until I reached the end. It is lighthearted and a real summery chick lit book which would be perfect to slip into a holiday suitcase to be read beside a pool or read on a lazy weekend. 

Giovanna is married to Tom Fletcher from McFly but this book should be celebrated as a great debut novel written by Giovanna, an author, who happens to be married to Tom from McFly.

I recommend this as a great read - go and buy it now!!!

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Olivia and the Great Escape by Lyn Gardner

Olivia and the Great Escape 

 Jack Marvell's latest stunt is to stay up on a high-wire for thirty days and nights. Olivia is worried for her father, but very proud of him. But then the rumours start, claiming that Jack's cheating. Olivia must give her all to her role in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and also prove to the world that her father is no fraudster.
 This is the sixth book in the series of books by Lyn Gardner in which Olivia, along with her sister Alicia (Eel) attend their grandmother's school, The Swan Academy of Theatre and Dance. I have reviewed the previous five books on my blog and I have really enjoyed following Olivia and Eel's journey through the school, each gaining confidence in their performance skills.

In this book, their father, Jack Marvell is planning another huge test of his endurance and skills. He reminds me of David Blaine. However, someone appears to have decided to sabotage his spectacular as another artiste sets up just down the river. Olivia is getting older and continuing with her studies, supporting her father in his latest stunt while Eel decides she needs to know if she has the potential to become a prima ballerina, but when she gets the answer she has a difficult decision to make.
As with the whole series, Lyn Gardner has created a fantastic cast of characters within a school environment - think Enid Blyton's Malory Towers set in a stage school. The stories are believable with characters facing the same problems that teenagers up and down the country are facing as friendship groups are pulled apart when boys come on the scene.
This is a fantastic series for children aged 9+. It would appeal to girls and I think boys will also enjoy it if they have a interest in performing arts. The book is part of a series and although reading in order would enable readers to meet the characters and learn their histories, it is not necessary as each book could be read as a standalone story.
 The next installment of the series is due for release in July 2013 and I look forward to seeing what Olivia and her friends get up to next.
Thank you to the publishers, Nosy Crow, for sending me the book to review.

Space Penguins by L A Courtenay

Star Attack! - Space Penguins 1Cosmic Crash! - Space Penguins 2 

What's black and white, and flies faster than the speed of light? The Space Penguins! They're the ice-cool crew of the spaceship Tunafish. With their pioneering flying skills and resistance to the deep freeze, these intergalactic avians are going where no fin has gone before. Captain T Krill, Rocky Waddle, Fuzz Allgrin and Splash Gordon are on a mission to explore new planets, rescue alien life, and battle their former comrade-in-wings: Dark Wader. In Star Attack! the crew of the Tunafish pick up a distress signal from a cargo craft, there's snow time to lose. But the Tunafish's daring rescue is canned when the vessel runs into trouble too. What's been luring spacecraft to their doom? This hilarious Space Penguin adventure is sure to appeal to young boys. Full of humour, fishy goings on and adventure this is a fantastic series that will tickle even reluctant boy readers.

This reminds me of the cult favourite 'Red Dwarf'! I believe this will be a firm favourite of school boys  up and down the country and are a great book to get reluctant readers to pick up a book!

There are five main characters, each of whom are introduced at the start of the book with their own little biography. The books are full of humour and I am sure that they will entice a readers imagination - leading to a fascination of space travel and lots of oppurtunity for further reading. Each book sees the space penguins off on an exploration filled with adventure and excitement.

The stories are accompanied by great illustrations by James Davies. 

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

I was surprised to find the author was Lucy Courtenay, who's books I have previously included on this blog, being cute animal reads which my daughter has enjoyed. This book is a completely different style of writing and I am sure she will gain lots of male fans through this new series.

Undead Pet Series by Sam Hay

Revenge of the Phantom Furball - Undead Pets Bk. 2Goldfish from Beyond the Grave - Undead Pets 4Return of the Hungry Hamster - Undead Pets Bk. 1

When Joe Edmunds makes a wish on an Egyptian amulet, little does he know that he has volunteered to guide and defend the undead pet inhabitants of his town! Dumpling the hamster came to a dusty end inside a vacuum cleaner ...but he suspects that his owner Oliver's parents never admitted to their son that they were to blame for Dumpling's demise. Now the hamster needs Joe's help to reveal the truth - but there's a furry surprise awaiting them at Oliver's house.. (Synopsis of Book 1)

When I saw the synopsis for these books I was unsure about them - I know that my children have gone through that phase of talking about death and I wasn't sure if I wanted to encourage any more of those conversations. However, when I had read these I was pleasantly surprised. Although the books feature a character who is dead, it is not a big part of the story.

Joe has a strange power - when a pet dies in suspicious circumstances, they contact Joe, who sorts out their 'unfinished business' before they rest in peace. I think that these books will be a hit with children aged 7+, those with an inquisitive mind who enjoy finding the answer to their questions. In 'Goldfish from beyond the grave', Fizz needs to know who it was who killed him. Was he eaten by one of the other fish in the tank or did something else happen? Only Joe can find the answer to these questions and until he does, he will keep meeting these undead pets.

It is a good series and it is not necessary to read these books in order as there is a useful 'The story so far' in each book. It would be perfect for children aged 7 years+ who are happy reading chapter books on their own, independently. I think they will attract boys rather than girls but are suitable for either.

The books are accompanied by a website: where readers can meet the characters and play games.

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

A Cottage by the Sea by Carole Matthews

A Cottage by the Sea

Grace has been best friends with Ella and Flick forever. The late-night chats, shared heartaches and good times have created a bond that has stood the test of time. When Ella invites them to stay for a week in her cottage in South Wales, Grace jumps at the chance to see her old friends. She also hopes that the change of scenery will help her reconnect with her distant husband. Then Flick arrives; loveable, bubbly, incorrigible Flick, accompanied by the handsome and charming Noah. This is going to be one week which will change all their lives forever...Join Grace, Ella and Flick for a week of love, laughter, tears and friendship in A Cottage by the Sea

 I am a big fan of Carole Matthews and look forward to each new release. This one is a great read for a long holiday weekend, a beach read or one to have in your hand luggage for a long journey.

Set in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, it sounds just the place for a long, lazy week away and when Ella invites her childhood friends for a catchup along with their partners, I am sure that was what she imagined for the week. However, their week was definitely not that! There were arguments and upset before Grace even got there and when Flick arrived with her new boyfriend there were instant attractions between the holiday goers which were not in the plan!

The story was one of friendship and relationships and although I was able to guess one of the relationships that ended the book I was surprised by another. There were many funny scenes within the book and it is definitely one which keeps you entertained throughout.  There are twists and turns throughout the storyline but all inkeeping with a great read!

I would recommend this book to all fans of Carole Matthews and fans of women's fiction. When you pick up a Carole Matthew's book you are guaranteed a fantastic read every time!

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

The Paradise Guesthouse by Ellen Sussman

The Paradise Guest House 

It starts as a trip to paradise. Sent on assignment to Bali, Jamie, an adventure guide, imagines spending weeks exploring the island's lush jungles and pristine white sand beaches. Yet three days after her arrival, she is caught in Bali's infamous nightclub bombings, which irreparably change her life and leave her with many unanswered questions. One year later, haunted by memories, Jamie returns to Bali seeking a sense of closure. Most of all, she hopes to find Gabe, the man who saved her from the attacks. She hasn't been able to forget his kindness - or the spark between them as he helped her heal. Checking into a cosy guest house for her stay, Jamie meets the kindly owner, who is coping with a painful past of his own, and a young boy who improbably becomes crucial to her search. Jamie has never shied away from a challenge, but a second chance with Gabe presents her with the biggest dilemma of all: whether she's ready to open her heart. Praise for "French Lessons": "A wonderfully warm and sexy book ...we loved it!" ("Bella"). "A delightful novel, full of joie de vivre". ("Woman and Home").

Having previously read Ellen Sussman's debut novel,  French Lessons, I was looking forward to reading her next novel and I have not been disappointed. Although this book is completely different in content to her debut novel I loved it.

The Paradise Guesthouse is set in Bali a year on from the bombings which caused massive devastation to the communities there. Jamie, was in those bombings, she lost her boyfriend there, and has returned for a memorial service honouring those who died and those who survived and/or the rescuers.

One of the things I love about Sussman is her ability to set the scene perfectly - while reading this book I was able to picture Bali and it really bought the book alive. She has a fantastic writing style which balances setting the scene with the actual story perfectly.

The story starts in 2003, when Jamie returns to the island, before going back to 2002, when Jamie is in Bali with her boyfriend, and finally goes back to 2003 and the memorial service. As can be imagined with the story content, there are scenes of raw emotion and confusion - should Jamie stay in Bali or return home to her family but there are also scenes of happiness and recollection when Jamie remembers the happy times in Bali.

I really liked Jamie's travels and she met some great characters in the book - Gabe being the main interest, and her host Nyoman but I must say my heart went out to Bambang and his dog TukTuk - a street boy who stole her wallet and then her heart!

This is a fantastic and quick read - one which could easily be devoured in one sitting. I am already looking forward to Sussman's next book with excitement.

Crossing Life Lines by Rachel Dove

Ever woken up and thought about what might have been, or what still could?

Cady Stokes is 29, and suddenly thrust into a new life, one she never expected, but was the old life really good for her?
Georgina Elliott is steadfastly single, career minded to the end, till she meets Ben on a work assignment.
Richard is dealing with a major life change too; can he make amends for his past?

Once some life lines are crossed, they cannot be undone...and would you want to if you could?

This is Rachel Dove's debut novel, dealing with life, love, loss and all the moments in between. 

When I read the synopsis of this book I was unsure what to expect - would it be a run of the mill love story or something different? What I read was a fantastic and clever story which crossed the divide between life and death.

The story sent the reader and the characters through a full range of emotions - there were times when I wanted to console Cady and others when I wanted to shake Richard and make him realise the heartache he had caused.

Rachel Dove has written a beautiful debut novel and I look forward to reading her next one - she has set herself a high target to beat this one!

I received this ebook from the author in return for an honest and independent review.